Italy Health Care and Vaccinations
A good standard of health care is available throughout Italy, although public hospitals tend to be better in the north than the south. Pharmacists sell over-the-counter medication and can advise on minor illnesses. They can also point you in the direction of more specialised help, if required. They keep the same hours as other shops, although some remain open at night on a rotation basis for emergency purposes. A list of those is usually on display in pharmacy windows.
For European visitors who are taken ill or have an accident, free or reduced-cost treatment is available - in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). These should be obtained before leaving for Italy. The EHIC gives access to state-provided medical treatment. Travellers from other countries should find out if they are covered by other reciprocal arrangements. Australia, for example, has such an agreement as long as long as citizens carry their Medicare card. In most larger cities, English-speaking doctors or a translator service is usually available. Most dentists are private.
Dial 112 for an ambulance in an emergency. For emergency treatment, go to the casualty (pronto soccorso) section of the nearest public hospital, where you can also get emergency dental treatment.
Food and Drink
Tap water is generally safe to drink except for some rural areas. The inscription 'Acqua Non Potabile' means water is not drinkable. Milk is generally pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit, vegetables and dairy products are considered safe to eat.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, pertussis, pneumococci and hepatitis B.
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