• Hannah

What vaccinations do I need before moving abroad to St Andrews?

If you are an international student and you are either thinking about or planning studying at St Andrews in Scotland, there are a few things you may already be pondering. Will my coursework be difficult? Where am I going to live? What do I need to do to prepare for moving to Scotland? How do I prepare for my healthcare whilst I am living in St Andrews? Although there is a lot to think about, taking care of your wellbeing and healthcare before your journey and during your stay in St Andrews is unquestionably one of the most important things to think about. In this article, we discuss in more detail which vaccinations (vaccines) you require when you should have them, and most importantly, why you should have them.

A few things you should arrange first

Student visa

Before arriving in the UK, you need to make sure that you have the correct insurance or health care coverage for your visa status. We have the National Health Services (NHS) and as an international student, you may be eligible to receive free health care during your stay. If you have a tier 4 student visa and are studying for six months or longer, you have access to the NHS and can register as an NHS patient. Otherwise, you will need to look into private insurance. If you would prefer to be seen by a private GP, that option is also available to you, and you will find that you will have less of a waiting time for appointments and can schedule appointments to fit around your study.

Prepare your medications

You should also check if your medication is registered and licensed for use in the UK before you travel. If your medication is not available or permitted in the UK, you should seek advice from your doctor or physician at home about what alternatives may be available to you.

What vaccines will I need to study in Scotland?

MenACWY Vaccine

Students up to the age of 25 going to university for the first time, and coming to Scotland from abroad must contact their GP before they move to check that they have had the MenACWY vaccine. This needs to be sorted before attending university.

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It goes without saying that when contracted, this disease can be very serious, especially if not vaccinated for or caught quickly. The disease is spread by sneezing, coughing or sharing utensils, cutlery or toothbrushes, for example. It can be passed along by someone who carries the virus but is not ill themselves, so it can be very difficult to catch at the early stages.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

Symptoms develop suddenly, in any order, and not everyone gets every symptom, making this disease a hard one to spot early. Symptoms include a fever of 38C or above, feeling or being sick, a bad headache, a rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it, a very stiff neck, an insensitivity to bright lights, drowsiness and fits or seizures.

What is septicemia?

Septicemia is also known as sepsis, and is a life-threatening complication which can occur as a result of meningitis. This is when bacteria from the meningitis infection enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout your entire body. Septicemia can result in tissue damage, organ failure and death.

What is the MenACWY vaccine for?

The MenACWY vaccine is designed to immunise you against contracting meningitis and septicemia. Although rare, these diseases are light-threatening. The diseases are caused by several groups of meningococcal bacteria, and the most common types are A, B, C, W and Y. Young people have the highest risk of getting meningococcal disease along with children and babies. The MenACWY vaccine is important as it covers you from the risks of the A, C, W & Y strains of bacteria causing the issue. Although optional, you can also choose to have the MenB vaccination to protect you from the B strain of bacteria which can also cause the disease.

Where can I get my MenACWY vaccine?

It is important to check with your current GP in your home country if you have had this vaccination before. If you have had the MenC vaccine before, this will only protect you against meningococcal C infection, but not against the other strains. Having the MenACWY is essential as it will protect you against the three other groups. You can also choose to have protection against the B strain by having the MenB vaccination as well, although this is not mandatory for study in the UK.

If you come from a country where the MenACWY or MenB vaccine is not available, then you will be able to get it done in the UK for a charge. If you are coming to study at St Andrews, we can arrange these vaccinations for you at our clinic in St Andrews. Pop us an email at or call 0333 577 5999 to arrange this.

MMR Vaccine

You should also have had the full double dose or MMR vaccine to protect from Measles, Mumps and Rubella before you come to study in St Andrews. You should check with your current doctor to see if you have had these vaccinations, and if not, you should also arrange to have these done before you travel.

What is MMR?

The MMR vaccine is a three-pronged protection against Measles, Mumps and Rubella. They are three highly infectious diseases that can cause very serious long-lasting side-effects.

What is Measles?

Measles is a viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious implications. It's uncommon in the UK due to the effectiveness of the MMR vaccination, and this is why it is required for an extended stay in the UK. Symptoms include sore, red eyes, a fever, a rash, white spots on the inside of the cheeks and cold-like symptoms. Some people can experience more serious side-effects including infections of the lungs and brain.

What is Mumps?

Mumps is another contagious viral illness that used to be common before the introduction of the MMR vaccine. It's most recognisable by swelling at the side of the face under the ears which can be very painful. Other symptoms include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature.

What is Rubella?

Rubella is also known as "German measles" and is a viral infection now rare in the UK and is a mild condition that will get better in around 7-10 days. However, it can be very dangerous in pregnant woman to their pregnancy. Symptoms included a skin rash, swollen glands, a high temperature, achy joints and cold-like symptoms.

What is the MMR vaccine for?

The MMR vaccine was created to protect against the three diseases. All three of these diseases can result in serious health complications and sometimes even death. Adults should receive this vaccination unless they have evidence that they have either already had the vaccination or have had all three diseases already. This means they would have already built up an immunity for it. There are a few reasons why some people shouldn't get the vaccination, and so it is important to discuss this with your doctor first.

Where can I get my MMR vaccine?

If possible, you should have your MMR vaccination before you move to St Andrews. This can be done by your doctor if you have not already had the vaccination. Alternatively, you may be able to get the MMR vaccine with the NHS when you arrive, or alternatively, you can book in with a private GP to have it done as well. We are also able to arrange the MMR vaccine for you at our clinic in St Andrews.

In summary

To answer the main question; students travelling to St Andrews from abroad need to check with their current GP in advance whether they have had the MenACWY vaccine and the MMR vaccine. If you have not had these vaccinations, you should arrange to have them done before you come to Scotland for your studies. If you are unable to have your vaccinations at home, you can arrange to have them done at either an NHS GP practice or at a private GP practice once you have arrived. If you would like, there is also the option of receiving the MenB vaccination to protect you against the B strain of bacteria which can also cause the disease.

At Vaila, we offer all of the above vaccinations and can administer them during one consultation at our clinic in St Andrews. To have the MenACWY and the MMR vaccines with us, the cost would be £139. To add the MenB vaccine, if you wish to do so, the full cost would be £229. Please be aware that due to vaccination sourcing these prices may be subject to change and are a guide only. Please give us a call for the most up-to-date pricing.

If you choose to have your vaccinations done with us, one of our GPs can advise you which vaccinations you require and which you can choose not to have. We will source the vaccinations for you and advise you of the cost before you come in for your appointment. Feel free to give us a call on 0333 577 5999 to find out more, or email us at

Is there anything you would like to know more about? Have any questions? Feel free to pop us a message!


Vaila Health

St Andrews | Perth | Dundee

0333 577 5999 |


0333 577 5999

Croftwell Clinic, Prior Muir, St Andrews, KY16 8LP
Tay MediSpa Clinic, 53-55 York Place, Perth, PH2 8EH

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