Traveling is now more affordable and more accessible for families from all parts of the world. As a result, illnesses and other infectious disease are now easier to spread from country to country. No one wants to get sick while they’re abroad, most especially those who brought their kids with them. Read on to learn more about the essential vaccination needs of those who are traveling with children.
Why should your child get vaccinated before traveling?
Despite advancements in modern medicine, there are still certain health risks in different countries which may require you and your child to get specific vaccines before entry. Remember that some health conditions are harder to diagnose in children, most especially in those who don’t know how to talk yet. Do your research before booking those plane tickets so you can prepare in advance.
When should your child get vaccinated?
Vaccines usually take some time to fully take effect, so you should set your child’s appointment at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. However, schedule months ahead if several doses are needed.
What vaccines are needed?
Vaccinations are given throughout a person’s lifetime. The minimum requirement for travelers of all ages is to complete their routine shots like MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), varicella (chickenpox), flu shots (influenza), and polio. However, your child may need additional vaccines which may depend on your destination and itinerary:
- Typhoid – consumption of contaminated food and water can lead to typhoid fever, most especially if you are in a developing country. Typhoid vaccine can be administered to children aged two years or older while oral typhoid vaccine is recommended for children aged six and above.
- Hepatitis A – dirty food and water can cause hepatitis which can eventually lead to serious liver damage. This vaccine should be given to children aged one and up.
- Hepatitis B – the first dose of this essential vaccine is usually given during the first trimester of your child's life. However, booster shots may be needed as your child gets older so it’s important to monitor your child’s immunization schedule.
- Japanese B encephalitis – after recent reports of Japanese encephalitis cases in the Philippines, you may want to do some research on JE cases in your destination of choice.
- Malaria – if you will be camping or spending significant time outdoors, consider asking your doctor on the best preventive solutions for malaria.
- Rabies – traveling can expose you to wildlife and other animals such as household pets which may be carriers of this infectious disease. The rabies vaccine is usually given in three doses according to gov.
Additional travel health tips
- Avoid letting your child eat/drink street food which may cause him/her to acquire common diseases like traveler’s diarrhea.
- Bring your trusted mosquito/bug repellant spray with you to avoid insect bites. Dengue and malaria are still prevalent in some developing countries like the Philippines so it’s important to wear clothes which gives your child an extra layer of protection like pants and long sleeves.
- Never let your kids play or be around stray animals like dogs, cats, monkeys, and bats.
- Always exercise road safety when you’re driving. Some countries like the US strictly require children to be placed in car seats.
- Always reapply sunscreen on your child with an SPF of at least 30.