When you’re considering a trip that takes you out of the United States, your children may require certain vaccinations to keep them safe. And if you don’t time it right, you may need to cancel your travels. Dr. Sima Stein is a board-certified pediatrician who leads the team at Sima Stein, MD in San Jose and Mountain View, California. She’s also an expert regarding traveling requirements and precautions for children. Call Dr. Stein for an appointment regarding your upcoming trip or book your pediatric travel consult online.
Children living in the U.S. are routinely immunized against mumps, measles, polio, and other serious illnesses. However, the country or region you’re planning to visit may have different health risks for which children, and many adults, have no immunity.
Travelers planning to spend time in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and South America, for instance, risk exposure to yellow fever. It’s transmitted through mosquito bites and symptoms range from fever and headache to internal bleeding. A vaccine can prevent your child from contracting yellow fever.
Depending on your travel plans and your child’s age and immunization history, Dr. Stein may recommend vaccinations for:
It takes most immunizations 4-6 weeks to become effective, so plan on scheduling your visit with Dr. Stein at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. If your planned departure date is sooner than that, schedule a visit anyway since your children may still benefit from shots or medications.
It’s also important to make sure your children are up-to-date on their routine immunizations before traveling out of the country. U.S. children typically receive measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines at 12-15 months of age, but Dr. Stein can give that vaccine as early as 6 months of age and possibly accelerate other standard vaccination schedules if necessary.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.9 children travel internationally every year, and each is susceptible to the same illnesses adults face. “Travelers’ diarrhea” is by far the most common ailment reported but malaria and other insect-borne illnesses also pose a threat.
Diarrhea is often caused by drinking water from local sources or eating foods prepared in unsanitary conditions. Drinking bottled water, peeling fruit before eating it, and dining in the hotel restaurant rather than at a roadside stand can help prevent diarrhea.
It’s important to note that diarrhea can be much more than an unpleasant nuisance for young children and infants due to their small size and the risk of rapid dehydration.
Otherwise, during your office visit for travel vaccinations and consultation, Dr. Stein provides complete instructions regarding issues you may encounter during your trip and tips for keeping your child healthy.