Being diagnosed with a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) doesn’t mean that you can never travel abroad or go on holiday again, but it is advisable to plan ahead with researching the right insurance and ensuring you have the correct medication before you travel.
Tell your medical team: Always consult with your medical care team, the nurse/travel clinic regarding your illness and medications you are taking and if necessary inform your consultant and do consider any potential health problems and your fitness for travelling.
Check if you need jabs: Check with the practice nurse in your local GP’s surgery to see if you need any vaccinations prior to travel. Some vaccinations (especially “live vaccines” see below)are not suitable for people on certain MPN medications or with particular conditions. Check with your GP and/or haematologist to see if vaccinations are suitable for you.
Live vaccines: if you have a weakened immune system due to treatment or low white blood counts you should not have live vaccines and this may affect your choice of holiday destination. Live vaccinations include BCG, (tuberculosis), MMR, (measles, mumps and rubella), oral typhoid and yellow fever you need to check vaccine safety with your haematology team as this list is not exhaustive.
Inactivated vaccines: These vaccines are not dangerous to patients with MPNs but may be less effective if your immunity is low. These vaccines include, Hepatitis A and B, influenza, rabies and meningococcal meningitis.
Consider insurance cover
It is very important to seriously consider getting insurance in case you become ill or have an accident while on holiday to provide medical expenses cover while you are outside the UK and/or need to be flown back to the UK in an emergency. Check our travel leaflet for more details.
The European Health Insurance Card and the UK Global Health Insurance Card
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the European Union (EU). The GHIC will enable you to get ‘necessary healthcare’ from state services when you’re visiting an EU country – necessary healthcare means healthcare which becomes medically necessary during your stay, and you cannot reasonably wait until you’re back in the UK to get it. You are advised to check what is and what is not covered by a GHIC. Some people may be able to apply for a new UK-issued EHIC if they are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. This gives the same cover as a GHIC in EU countries. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, a new UK-issued EHIC also covers you for necessary healthcare from state services in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. GHICs and the old UK EHICs only cover you in EU countries, they do not cover you in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.
The eligibility criteria for each of these cards changed on 1st January 2021 when the UK withdrew from the European Union (EU), you are advised to check on the NHS Health Care Abroad website for details on which card you need and how to apply. An EHIC and GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance, you are advised to take out adequate travel insurance for any journey you take.
Each country’s health system is different and might not include all the things you might expect to get free of charge from the NHS. In some countries, you have to pay a percentage towards the costs of any state-provided treatment, known as a patient co-payment. You’ll have to pay the same as a patient from that country. Find out more in the Gov.UK country healthcare guides.
To apply for an EHIC or GHIC visit the NHS Choices website. For further advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Service on 0191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
Purchasing insurance coverage
Check for exclusions: Many insurance companies are reluctant to insure patients who already have an illness and may ask you to take a related exclusion. It is probably advisable not to accept this offer.
Provide details: Insurance companies assess all applications individually. For this reason, when applying for cover it is always useful to provide as much detail as possible. If necessary, you can ask your consultant to write a letter stating your current diagnosis, related problems and medications and general health status.
Shop around: You may need to phone a few different companies to compare prices and to find one that gives you the cover that you need.
For more information check our travel leaflet for more details.