Brexit travel fears have struck across the country and, perhaps unexpectedly, even in the mind of globetrotter and TV favourite Ben Fogle. The Lives in The Wild host, 45, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the importance of vaccination awareness prior to travelling overseas. He told how UK tourists should make sure they could afford the cost of any medical health bills and inoculation prior to even booking their flights, or contemplate not going at all. Yet a niggling health protection worry which he confessed was on his mind was that of EHIC protection.
The card, which is of credit card size and blue in colour, is issued free of charge and allows residents of the UK to receive medical treatment in another member state free or at a reduced cost.
Yet following the UK’s departure from the European Union – scheduled for October 31 – its validity has been called into question.
Ben, who is married to Marina Fogle, told Express.co.uk of his worries and said: “We travel a lot to Europe – my wife is Austrian and my children have Austrian passports, so when we go there for the summer I am not worried about them having access to healthcare.
“But I will have to start thinking about myself.
“In the same vein people don’t think about speaking to healthcare experts for vaccinations, the same will be applicable before traveling to Europe for long, whether or not we have access to healthcare.
“A lot of people forget we need the medical card and, if I am honest, my wife got that for me.
“I had travelled on the continent for many years without it and that could have ended up a very expensive mistake.
“We take our health for granted because we have amazing access to the NHS but people have to remind themselves as soon as you leave the safety of our shores, it’s not the same as everywhere else you will have to pay those costs.”
Dr Christian Jessen, who partnered with Ben and the Sanofi Pasteur campaign to raise awareness of the importance of vaccinations and inoculation, added: “From my experience, people consider travel health when it’s too late – either they don’t leave enough time before their trip to take the recommended precautions, or they only think about it having returned with a travel-related illness.
“We should always do what we can to help prevent illness, so make sure you take the time to talk through any potential health risks your holiday and any activities may pose with a healthcare professional before you travel.
“Their advice will help you protect yourself as best you can against illness when you travel; and by reducing your chances of getting sick you will be more likely to enjoy your trip to the fullest.”
Meanwhile, research by Columbus Direct Travel Insurance has revealed many are potentially risking their health this summer, with a total of 54 per cent confused over the EHIC card’s terms and conditions.
The company polled 2,500 of its customers after the guidelines were published, with 75 per cent saying they had already booked a summer holiday to Europe.
Meanwhile, 80 per cent say they will continue to travel to Europe regardless of the outcome of Brexit – and despite being unsure whether their health is covered.
If the UK leaves the EU with a no deal, UK holidaymakers would not have access to subsidised medical care, meaning costs would rocket for medical bills while abroad.