In Portugal, vaccinations are a simple and straight-forward procedure to protect against infectious diseases.
Although there is no mandatory vaccination schedule (apart from healthcare workers who must receive the diphtheria vaccine), the healthcare service in Portugal provides a full program of free vaccinations for babies, children, and other special groups. This guide explains the details on which vaccines are available, as well as how you can go about getting them.
- The Portuguese vaccination system
- Insurance for vaccinations in Portugal
- Vaccinations for children in Portugal
- Special groups in Portugal
- Travel vaccinations in Portugal
- Useful resources
COVID-19 in Portugal
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.
The Portuguese vaccination system
Since 1965, the Portuguese National Vaccination Program (Plano Nacional de Vacinação in Portuguese; PNV for short) ensures that everyone in Portugal has access to free and accessible immunization. It constantly reviews its vaccines and procedures in order to protect as many people as possible against infectious diseases.
Public opinion is very much in favor of vaccinations. In fact, the European Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (ECDC) reports that Portugal has a 95% rate of vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Insurance for vaccinations in Portugal
Portugal ensures that, via the PNV, the majority of vaccinations are free of charge as well as universally available to all residents of Portugal.
For coverage on vaccines not included in the PNV scheme (e.g., chickenpox, hepatitis A, and rotavirus), there is a wide variety of health insurance providers in Portugal, such as:
Vaccinations for children in Portugal
Vaccinations for children in Portugal are free and are included in the national health PNV program. You can request the Individual Health Bulletin (in Portuguese) at your local health center; these centers are where your child is registered and their vaccinations are recorded. Newborn babies are immunized in hospitals; on the other hand, children get their vaccines from a nurse at the local health center.
PNV recommends a total of seven separate vaccines for kids (eight for girls) living in Portugal. The vaccine schedule includes the following:
- Hepatitis B vaccine: at birth, two, and six months old
- Haemophilus influenzae B vaccine: at two, four, six, and 18 months old
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine: at two, four, six and 18 months old; in addition, a booster dose at five years old
- Polio vaccine: at two, four, six, and 18 months old; in addition, a booster dose at five years old
- Pneumococcal (PCV) vaccine: at two, four, and 12 months old
- Hib/Men C vaccine: at 12 months old
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine: at 12 months old; in addition, a booster dose at five years old
- HPV vaccine (girls only): at 13 years old, two doses given six months apart
Other vaccines available (but are not normally recommended, nor free) are:
- Hepatitis A
- Rotavirus (gastroenteritis)
Vaccinations for special groups in Portugal
The PNV program also provides some vaccines free of charge for special groups. People in these groups are generally at a higher level of risk for getting an infectious disease. Vaccines in this category can be for any age group, such as:
- Hepatitis B vaccine: risk groups such as the elderly or those considered having serious health conditions (such as cardiovascular or lung disease).
- Polio vaccine: travelers to endemic areas, lab workers who manage potentially contaminated samples, as well as immuno-compromised individuals.
- MMR vaccine: women over the age of 18 who are looking to have children and who have not been previously vaccinated.
- Td (traveler’s diarrhea) vaccine: women of childbearing age and pregnant women who have not been previously vaccinated with the tetanus vaccine, and tetanus prophylaxis for wound management.
Remember to always check with your healthcare professional in case of individual enquiries on your vaccination requirements.
Travel vaccinations in Portugal
Vaccination requirements for entering Portugal may exist, although this depends entirely on your nationality. Check with a Portuguese embassy or consulate in your area before you travel to Portugal to make sure. The Centers for Disease Control also provides advice for those traveling to areas that require them.
The Ministry of Health also provides a number of recommended travel vaccines. These vaccines are available in travel clinics and are ideally given two to three months before you travel:
- Japanese encephalitis
- Tetravalent vaccine against invasive meningococcal disease
- Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)
- Typhoid fever
- Yellow fever
Travel advice or vaccines related to travel may be covered by your health insurance, although not every health insurance provider does so. Check with your local health insurance provider directly to see if travel-related healthcare is covered in your plan.
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