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According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, pre-travel immunisations can help keep your children safe and happy while you explore the world together. Here’s everything you need to know about travel vaccinations, including those for babies, older children, and everyone else in your family.

The December holidays are just around the corner, and you may have planned to travel to an international destination with your children.

While travelling with children introduces families to memorable adventures, it can also expose your child’s immune system to diseases not routinely vaccinated against in South Africa. As a result, travel vaccines are an essential part of preparing for international travel to specific countries or regions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in terms of illness, children face the same risks as adults, but depending on their age, they may not have completed their routine vaccine schedule.

Recommendations and travel vaccination schedules differ depending on where you live, where you are travelling, the health of your child, and the type of vaccine,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

What You Should Know About Travel Vaccinations 

Vaccinations for travel are recommended or required depending on the destination. In some cases, vaccines are recommended based on specific health risks.

Begin by visiting the CDC’s travel vaccination website to determine which vaccines are recommended or required for your destination. Then, book an appointment with your healthcare provider (at least four to six weeks before your trip), who can provide tailored information based on your child’s vaccination schedule and destination and decide whether optional travel vaccines are required.

The best time for your child to get travel vaccinations is usually at least a month before departure. This gives your child’s body enough time to build immunity before your trip.

Do Some Routine Childhood Vaccines Necessitate A Change In Travel Schedule?

Your children should have their routine immunisations up to date before embarking on any trip. In some cases, regular childhood vaccination schedules may need to be adjusted to provide additional protection for travel.

For example, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) is frequently administered to children at the age of one. In the case of travel, however, your healthcare provider may advise giving your child a MMR vaccine dose before 12 months (minimum six months old). It is important to note that in this case, you will still need to re-vaccinate the entire course (two doses of MMR vaccine) after your child’s first birthday.

What Is The Efficacy Of Travel Vaccinations For Children?

Vaccines’ effectiveness varies. Most childhood vaccines provide more than 90% protection against diseases that would otherwise result in severe complications and death.

Your child’s age, health status, immune response to the vaccine, and how well the vaccine components match the disease-causing bacteria or virus circulating in the population are all factors that contribute to vaccine effectiveness.

“Some children who have only developed partial immunity to the vaccine may contract the disease in some cases. In this case, the vaccine aids in the reduction of disease severity and the prevention of complications,” adds Hewlett.

Are Travel Vaccinations Safe For Children?

The US Food and Drug Administration has thoroughly tested and approved all routine childhood vaccines and vaccines for international travel in babies and children.

Vaccines stimulate the body’s immune system to produce protective antibodies against the disease. As a result, your child will be protected against the disease if you are ever exposed to the actual bacteria or virus.

Vaccines are occasionally contraindicated in some children, but the most common side effects are minor and typically include fever and swelling or soreness at the injection site. Consult your healthcare provider to determine whether a vaccine is appropriate for your child and how to manage any adverse effects.

Is A Vaccine Against A Now-Rare Disease Necessary For My Child?

Vaccination schedules that are widely used are effective, which may explain the scarcity of diseases like varicella or measles in your home country. These diseases, however, may still be prevalent in other parts of the world where such vaccination schedules do not exist.

If you take your child to such a country without immunisation, they may be exposed to these preventable diseases. Furthermore, travellers may unknowingly bring back disease-causing bacteria or viruses. If the community is not immunised, these diseases can resurface quickly.

Will Giving A Child Multiple Vaccines At The Same Time Overwhelm Their Immune System?

Numerous studies have demonstrated the safety of administering multiple vaccines simultaneously. Children are exposed to countless foreign particles from the environment and their diets daily with no adverse effects. Similarly, the amount of bacteria or viruses in vaccines is insufficient to cause harm. Giving multiple vaccines ensures the child receives protection as soon as possible and avoids unnecessary delays in vital vaccinations.

In general, there is no upper limit to the number of routine or travel vaccinations for babies that can be administered concurrently. If live vaccines are to be administered at different times, each dose should be separated by at least 28 days or as your healthcare provider recommends.

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