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Discover how Portugal’s healthcare service can help you stay flu-free

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Although Portugal is one of the sunniest countries in the world, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year and a mild Mediterranean climate, between October and March flu activity usually peaks… yes, even in sunny Portugal!

It’s no secret that Portugal has lots to see and do during the autumn and winter months. From strolling through the town centres bright with Christmas lights and the smell of chestnuts in the air to families enjoying lazy walks along the beautiful beaches and fishing villages of the coast. There are plenty of options to keep healthy and soak up on Vitamin D. The Portuguese certainly don't stay at home on chilly days and you shouldn’t either!

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If you’re currently residing here or thinking of moving to Portugal in the next few months, find out how to stay flu-free this season and, should it knock on your door, where to seek medical assistance to help you quickly get back on your feet and enjoy all Portugal has to offer:

Recommendations for staying flu-free

Aside from personal precautions, such as washing our hands frequently or avoiding people who have the flu, there are several public measures in Portugal to help you stay flu-free that are available to all residents:

When and where to get vaccinated:

Flu vaccination in Portugal is available free of charge at public health centres for some risk groups. People who aren't covered by free vaccination can buy the flu shot in pharmacies, benefiting from a 37% co-payment with a doctor's prescription.

The vaccine can be administered throughout the fall and winter, and should preferably be taken by the end of the year. It's strongly recommended for anyone aged 65 and over, chronically ill or with a weakened immune system, during pregnancy as well as health professionals and other caregivers.

Free medical advice:

If you have any doubts regarding possible flu symptoms or medication, you don’t have to immediately go to the doctor or hospital, just dial Portugal’s National Healthcare Service (known as SNS, Servico Nacional de Saude) free number SNS 24: 808 24 24 24.

SNS 24 hotline will help you with acute, non-emergent health-related issues. And yes, they speak English!

This service offers both clinical and non-clinical services. Clinical services include counselling and referral in acute non-emergent disease, as well as information about non-prescription medication. Administrative and information services include scheduling an appointment at your primary care facility, support when using online public healthcare services or general information on Portugal’s National Healthcare Service.

SNS 24 is available to help you 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, as well as administrative staff. The service is free, you only have to pay your telecommunication service provider for the call.

Online information:

On the website of the Portuguese Directorate General of Health (Direcao Geral de Saude) there is more information available, in Portuguese and in English, to help you take the necessary measures to keep healthy during flu season.

How to benefit from the Portuguese National Healthcare Service

The Portuguese National Healthcare Service was created in 1979 and is one of the best in the world. The network of global health care institutions and services is financed through taxes, through which the state safeguards the right for every resident to receive healthcare protection.

Access to this network may be free of charge or require the payment of a small fee, depending on the patient’s age, health condition and nationality, among other factors.

Citizens of European Union Member States:

EU Regulations establish that Citizens of European Union Member States share the same rights as nationals, regarding Portuguese healthcare rights.

All EU citizens staying temporarily in Portugal have to present a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to have access to the National Healthcare Service.

As for EU citizens residing in Portugal, after applying for healthcare by presenting the S1 document in your local Social Security Center, your Health Care Centre will issue a National Healthcare Service number which grants access to all public healthcare services.

Citizens of Third Countries:

Citizens of Third Countries under Bilateral Agreements also have access to public healthcare services and, in some cases, these are provided free of cost to the patient. In the case where there isn’t a bilateral agreement or an entitlement document issued by the country of origin, the patient will have to pay for the healthcare services provided.

UK Citizens after Brexit:

Because access to public healthcare in Portugal is residence-based, all residents will continue to have access to Portuguese state healthcare after the UK leaves the EU.

Where to go in case you get the flu

The website of the Portuguese Ministry of Health (Ministerio da Saude), also available in English, has information on which hospitals, health centres, pharmacies or other public healthcare providers are closest to you. Or you can simply ask one of your neighbours or anyone at your local café… the Portuguese are renowned for their hospitality and are always willing to help!

In the Algarve and the Silver Coast of Portugal, two popular regions among tourists and expats in Portugal, the proximity to the coast ensures that both places have a very extensive network of public and private healthcare services that guarantee you excellent medical care in case you do get the flu:



- Hospital Distrital de Faro
- Hospital Distrital de Portimão

- Hospital de Loulé
- Hospital Particular do Algarve - Gambelas, Faro
- Hospital Lusíadas Albufeira
- Clínica Particular do Algarve - Guia, AlgarveShopping
- Clínica Lusíadas Forum Algarve
- Clínica Particular Vilamoura
- Clínica Internacional de Olhão- Unidade Hospitalar de Faro


- Hospital de Santo André - Leiria
- Hospital Bernardino Lopes de Oliveira - Alcobaça
- Hospital Distrital Caldas da Rainha
- Hospital Distrital Torres Vedras

- Montepio Rainha Dona Leonor (Caldas da Rainha)
- Centro Hospitalar Nossa Senhora da Nazaré (Nazaré)
- Centro Hospitalar de S. Francisco (Alcobaça)
- Hospital Soerad (Torres Vedras)
- Hospital CUF Torres Vedras


Healthcare Centres:


- Centro de Saúde de Loulé
- Centro de Saúde de Albufeira with branches in Ferreiras, Guia, Olhos de Água and Paderne
- Centro de Saúde de Olhão
- Centro de Saúde de Faro
- Centro de Saúde de São Brás de Alportel
- Centro de Saúde de Silves
- Centro de Saúde de Tavira

- International Health Centres - Albufeira


- Centro de Saúde de Alcobaça
- Centro de Saúde de Caldas da Rainha
- Centro de Saúde de Óbidos
- Centro de Saúde de Nazaré
- Unidade de Saúde Familiar de Tornada
- UCSP Alcobaça with branches in Cela, Alfeizerão, Pinhal Fanheiro and São Martinho do Porto
- UCSP Caldas da Rainha with branches in Santa Catarina, A-dos-Francos and Foz do Arelho
- UCSP Óbidos with branches in A-dos-Negros, Amoreira, Olho Marinho and Vau
* UCSP - Unidade de Cuidados de Saúde Personalizados (Personalized Health Care Unit). 


An apple a day keeps the doctor away… but living a happy life also helps!

Time and time again, expats from all over the world guarantee that moving to Portugal was the best decision they’ve ever made and are glowing with happiness and health because of it!

However, it’s good to know that if and when we need a doctor nearby, Portugal offers one of the best public healthcare systems in the world, as well as a wide offer of prestigious and very well qualified private healthcare facilities.

›› Healthcare in Portugal: an Expat, Insider Perspective

If you’d like to find out more about moving to Portugal and what public services are available to foreigners, give us a call! We are passionate about our beautiful country and are more than happy to share our experience of living in Portugal and where to buy a property that best suits your lifestyle and your family’s personal needs.

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