Got plans to travel this spring or summer?
Going out of the country?
Taking the kids?
While a trip abroad can be a great experience for kids, whether you are just site seeing or you are visiting family, don’t forget to take some simple precautions so that your family comes back safe and healthy.
Get a Vaccine Checkup Before You Travel
It is important to remember that just because your kids are up-to-date on their routine childhood immunizations, that doesn’t mean that they are ready to travel out of the country.
It might surprise some folks to know that there are many vaccines that kids in the United States don’t routinely get, like vaccines that protect against cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis, etc. These are considered to be travel vaccines and may be recommended or required depending on where you are going.
How do you know which vaccines your kids need?
The CDC Traveler’s Health website is the best place to figure it out. With a list of 245 destinations, in addition to offering advice on how to avoid vaccine-preventable diseases, you get recommendations on avoiding others too, like Zika and malaria.
Don’t wait until the last minute before checking on these vaccine recommendations though. These are not vaccines that most pediatricians have in their office, so call or visit your pediatrician a few months in advance to plan out how you will get them. As a last resort, if your pediatrician can’t order them, can’t help you get them from an area pharmacy, and they aren’t available at your local health department, you might look to see if there is a “travel clinic” nearby.
Don’t Forget the Early MMR Recommendations
It’s also important to remember to make sure your child’s routine vaccines are up-to-date too. Confusing things a little, that can mean getting their MMR vaccines early.
Many parents, and some pediatricians, often forget that before traveling out of the United States:
- Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. While this early dose should provide protection while traveling, it doesn’t provide full protection, doesn’t count as the 12 to 15 month routine dose, and will need to be repeated.
- Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days. So even if your child is less than 4-years, he or she needs two doses of MMR before traveling out of the country. This second early dose won’t have to be repeated when they do turn 4.
- Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days. While some adults are considered fully vaccinated with one dose of MMR, that isn’t true if they are traveling out of the country. Travelers need two doses!
Continuing outbreaks of measles linked to unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travelers highlight the need to spread the word about these recommendations.
Traveling is fun. Be sure to bring back some great memories and a few souvenirs. Don’t bring home measles or other diseases that you can then spread to others in your community or on the plane ride home.