Since I started this blog I’ve discussed different topics such as accommodation or food, but I only briefly touched on a very important one: your health during the Camino. So let me correct that.
Do you need any vaccines to walk the Camino de Santiago?
First, I’d like to clarify something: every now and then people ask on forums what vacunas (vaccinations) they need in order to enter Spain. The answer is NONE! You don’t need any vacunas to enter Spain or any other European country.
You can find that information, as well as other practical travel info in the following link: http://www.spain.info/en/informacion-practica/consejos-viaje/consejos-practicos/requisitos/
* May 2021 edit: as a result of the covid pandemic, there are plans to introduce a European ‘vaccination passport’. It’s still not clear how it will work, but it doesn’t look like it will be a travel requirement.
In case of emergency…
Secondly, the number to contact emergency services in Spain and the rest of Europe is 112. It’s a free number. And they speak English. Make sure you know this number or keep it handy at all times. It would be a good idea to store it in your phone.
A few weeks ago I wrote a short post, El botiquín, about first-aid items to carry in your mochila. Hopefully, that’s all you will need: a couple of tiritas and an ibuprofeno or two.
But some things are beyond our control: You could get sick or even have an accident. That’s why it’s a good idea to be prepared.
- If you are an EU citizen, don’t forget your Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea (European Health Insurance Card). The Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea entitles you to state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.
The following link has contact information for every country where you can apply: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=563&langId=en#nationalinfo
Where should you go?
If you need medical attention while in Spain, you can go to the local centro de salud with your Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea.
On the other hand, when the centro de salud is closed (or your problem can’t wait) you can go to urgencias (A&E or ER, depending where you are from) to be seen by a doctor.
If you can’t get yourself to the centro de salud or urgencias, call 112 for assistance. Don’t worry if your Spanish is limited. As I mentioned, they have English-speaking operators to help you. They will assess the situation and dispatch an ambulancia or any other emergency services they deem necessary.
- If you are coming from outside the European Union, then you should consider getting seguro (insurance).
And even if you are coming from within the EU, getting some seguro is not something you should dismiss, since the Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country.
If you are not convinced, read Nidarosa’s story:
My Scouse Spouse and I have walked together several times – Astorga to Santiago for our honeymoon, Hadrian’s Wall, then Astorga to Santiago again earlier this year. I knew he enjoyed it and he sometimes mentioned wanting to walk the Francés from St Jean Pied de Port to Astorga to see what I have seen, […]
You can find more health-related info and Spanish in Necesito un médico. Ideally, you won’t need any of this, but you know what they say: Better safe than sorry or Más vale prevenir que curar, if you would like to say it in Spanish!