Babies are routinely immunised against some deadly diseases, starting just after they are born; the vaccines protect against some diseases that are still prevalent even in our advanced economy, and others that are no longer. When travelling, there may be other recommended vaccines for your child so as to ensure their travel health and minimise the risk of them falling prey to any diseases. Always check with your doctor to discuss which travel vaccinations to give the little one, and which ones may not be necessary.
Vaccinations and Vaccines
Vaccination is the process of introducing an antigen, or vaccine, into the human body to promote an immune response against a strain of disease or an actual disease. Immunisation is the result of vaccination, when the body recognises the disease targeted in the vaccine and mounts a protective response.
Vaccinations can be delivered orally via liquid drops (usually used for babies), or (and most commonly) through injections. With the development of advanced vaccines and international vaccination programs, several diseases have been controlled, while some, like polio, have been almost completely eradicated.
However there are still countries that report cases of these illnesses, and if you are planning on travelling there with the little one, it would be wise to check the health information of that country with your travel doctor. You can get the necessary vaccinations for your loved one before travelling there, to ensure your child's travel health and well-being.
Vaccinations: Diseases To Be Vaccinated Against
Babies are routinely vaccinated against several diseases when they are still infants, such as whooping cough and polio, but your child may need to be vaccinated against other diseases that may be prevalent in those countries or the country you are planning to travel to. Some vaccinations may be given before they are scheduled to protect your baby during travel (e.g. measles, mumps and rubella [MMR] vaccine can be given at 9 months, however the 12 months of age dose must still be given).
Consult an expert on travel medicine to check if it would be safe to accelerate a course of vaccinations.
Poliomyelitis: Commonly known as polio, and also known as infantile paralysis, this disease can still be found in some developing countries. Although most countries ensure that babies are vaccinated against this disease during infancy, it is certainly advisable to make sure your infant is safe from this sickness.
Diphtheria: A disease that affects the upper respiratory tract, with symptoms of sore throat, difficulty breathing, and fevers, this illness is highly infectious. Be sure that your child is protected against diphtheria before coming into contact with local children in the area you are traveling to.
Whooping cough: Also known as pertussis, it’s another bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. Children suffer the typical ‘whoop’ sounding cough, but adults can also be affected, and because they don’t produce the whooping sound, they are less likely to be diagnosed early, increasing the risk of spread.
Measles: This viral illness is a real scare in children, causing them to break out in red rashes all over their skin, have swollen, red eyes and runny noses. Highly contagious and with potentially severe complications, it’s as common as chickenpox and mumps in many developed and developing countries.
Other illnesses that your little one is routinely immunised against are hepatitis B and pneumococcal infections. Your doctor may be able to shorten the scheduled timeframe for some vaccinations, but there is a possibility that your infant may not get the full protection that the vaccination has to offer.
Vaccinations: What To Do Before Traveling With Your Baby
Before you set out on your trip with your baby around the world (or just across the border), it’s best to research the health situation at your destination with your travel doctor. Good places to check would be the WHO (World Health Organization) or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (gives an American perspective). These sources contain information your doctor will take you through regarding travel health,travel medicines, and the most appropriate vaccinations to provide your child before travelling.
If you are travelling to a country less developed than yours, you may wish to give your loved one all the necessary vaccinations they need before taking off. Some vaccines may be compulsory, because you will need to provide proof of vaccination when you get to your destination country. For diseases such as yellow fever, you may be required to show a completed yellow fever vaccination card at the airport before you can proceed any further.
So, should you ask your travel doctor if you need to give your little one vaccinations before travelling overseas? The answer is yes. Regardless of the level of development in the country, diseases can crop up anyway and at any time, and it is better to be on the safe side than to take chances with your health and that of your baby.