For most people, planning a city trip to Istanbul does not require any special medical precautions. It’s one of the major world cities — well developed and pretty Western.
Nevertheless, I suggest to make sure you have a proper travel insurance and go over the list of recommended vaccinations. Also, if you’re on prescription medicines, do keep on reading.
Do you need to get any special vaccinations for a holiday in Istanbul? No, you don’t. It’s very likely you’ll do just fine. However, every travel agency and governmental travel advice will recommend you to be immune to Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio and Typhus. Chances are you already received shots against most of these diseases in the past … and are still immune — check with your physician.
Most medicines that require prescriptions in Europe or the US are freely available in any Istanbul pharmacy (Eczane). You can even buy antibiotics without prescription. So, if you’re in need of a certain medicine, no need for a doctor’s visit first. Just enter any pharmacy and ask for it. The only exceptions are the real strong or habit forming drugs. To top that exception, medicines in Istanbul are usually cheaper that in European countries or the US.
The biggest obstacle you may experience is making the pharmacist understand what medicine you actually need. Pharmacists normally speak some level of English, but different pronunciation may cause a communication hiccup. Writing it down after a few attempts may solve the problem.
However, some medicines also have a complete different name. So, despite your pronunciation or spelling efforts, the pharmacist will still have no clue what you are talking about. To prevent such inconveniences, copy the generic/chemical name of your medicine and bring it along, and not just the brand name.
Bottom line: in case you get ill, medicines you are used to take to cure the illness are readily available in any pharmacy (even if they are prescription drugs in your country) and often even cheaper. In case you are on prescription drugs bring yours along, but write down their chemical name in case you run out or they get lost.
Make sure your health insurance covers medical treatments in Turkey – even if Europe is included in your policy. Istanbul is indeed partly located in Europe, but the majority of Turkish soil is not! Your health service may categorize Turkey (and Istanbul) in a different region of the world. Turkey has both public and private hospitals. Private doctor offices are uncommon. Private hospitals (where you want to go in case something really nasty happens, God forbid!) can prove to be quite expensive if you are not covered by any insurance or social security scheme.
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