Since Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, many travellers seeking a Caribbean escape are are more considerate of the safety of their travels. Fortunately, the Turks and Caicos is well on its way to recovery and has already opened its doors to thousands of tourists.
However, extreme situations like 2017’s hurricanes have always served as a good reminder to do everything you can to know how to travel safely and responsibly.
Here are some details related to health safety when you are travelling to the Turks and Caicos*.
Before You Go
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends visiting your doctor 4-6 weeks before you travel to ANY destination. Even if you’ve been to the Turks and Caicos before, pathogens are constantly moving around and changing. By visiting your doctor before you travel, you will be able to stay updated on your vaccinations.
All travelers going to ANY destination
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chicken pox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Routine childhood vaccines include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
Adult routine vaccines include
- Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria)
- Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Most travellers going to Turks and Caicos
- Hepatitis A. CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in the Turks and Caicos Islands, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
- Typhoid. You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in the Turks and Caicos Islands. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
Some travellers going to Turks and Caicos
- Hepatitis B. You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.
- Rabies. Rabies is present in bats in the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, it is not a major risk to most travelers. CDC recommends rabies vaccine for only these groups:
- Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites (such as adventure travel and caving).
- People who will be working with or around bats (such as wildlife professionals and researchers).
Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call the Turks and Caicos Islands’ embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.
Get Health Insurance
Regular travel and health insurance should be sufficient coverage for TCI. Consult your insurer if you’re unsure.
Some activities such as diving and kiteboarding can be considered “extreme sports,” which won’t be covered under most plans. Again, consult your insurer and read the fine print of your policy to be certain.
On Turks and Caicos
Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in the Turks and Caicos Islands, so your behavior is important. While Turks and Caicos has a strong infrastructure and strict health regulations, especially in the tourist sector, you can still minimize personal risk such as avoiding uncooked food.
Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Fortunately, many of these diseases can be prevented with a vaccine or medicine, but you can further reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.
UK health authorities have classified Turks and Caicos Islands as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
Cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in the Turks and Caicos Islands. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
To prevent insect bites, you can:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below).
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
- Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
When using insect repellent, always use as directed.
- Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
- Products with one of the following active ingredients can also help prevent mosquito bites. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection.
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD
While tap water is safe to drink on Providenciales, the other lands have variable quality—especially those that are less developed.
There are hospital facilities on Providenciales and Grand Turk, both operated by Interhealth Canada. They provide a range of services including diagnostic services, primary care and outpatient specialty clinics, emergency services and inpatient care. Serious cases are still referred overseas, usually to Miami or Nassau.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Most Importantly? Have A Great Time!
The Turks and Caicos is still one of the safest places to travel even if you decide to take up some water sports, enjoy the depths of the sea, or sample the local cuisine. Many tours are led by capable guides, and the more adventurous activities are taught by certified instructors.
Beyond the preventative care or precautions you would normally do anyway for any trip, the Turks and Caicos has a strong and modern infrastructure to handle most emergencies.
*Information is accurate at the time of this writing. Please revisit this guide and the linked resources to stay updated on any future changes.