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Get Vaccinated for Your First Family Holiday!

Tuesday, 17.05.2016

So, you’ve booked the tickets and it is time to prepare for your first family holiday. Your little one is finally deemed big enough to warrant his first trip beyond Singapore’s shores. But where do you start and what are some important factors to take note of?

First and foremost, get vaccinated as a safety precaution. Here are some tips to help new parents understand the importance of vaccination and where you can get it. 

Vaccination is safe and can saves lives! 

Your pediatrician will conduct an assessment for your child before administering any vaccination. While some vaccines may have some side effects, including fever, this is minimal compared to the discomfort and inconvenience of falling ill overseas – a damper on any family holiday.

There are situations where babies are too young to receive certain vaccinations. Some children may be hindered from vaccination due to allergies, medical conditions like leukemia or other reasons. In this case, their parents and siblings may opt to get fully immunised to reduce the risk of infection. 

Make sure your child has completed their normal routine of childhood vaccines. 

It is important to keep your child’s routine immunisation on schedule and make sure they receive all their vaccinations. Should your trip cross over a scheduled routine vaccine date, ask your pediatrician for advice and schedule an advance appointment. 

Always consult your child's pediatrician as early as possible before travel. An ideal time frame is around 1 – 1.5mths before your trip.

The routine vaccination list includes a list such as:

•    Diphtheria
•    H. influenzae Type B
•    Hepatitis A and B
•    Influenza
•    Japanese B Encephalitis
•    Meningococcal Infection (caused by bacteria: Neisseria meningitidis)
•    Pertussis (whooping cough)
•    Pneumococcal Infection (caused by bacteria: Streptococcus pneumoniae)
•    Poliomyelitis
•    Rabies
•    Rotavirus
•    Tetanus
•    Typhoid
•    Varicella (chicken pox)
•    Yellow Fever

Parents may require vaccination too!

Many vaccine preventable illnesses are making a resurgence due to non-vaccination, incomplete vaccination, and waning immunity. It is easy to overlook one or two when the diseases they stand for are no longer feared today, but it always pays to be safe than sorry. It is best to talk to your doctor to find out more about necessary vaccinations based on your travel plan.

Depending on your travel destinations, your doctor may recommend you and your children to be vaccinated against additional diseases. 

  • Seasonal influenza  vaccination is recommended for all travelers over 6 months old, especially for children, pregnant women, persons  65 years or older, and those with chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, renal, neurologic, hepatic, or haematologic disorders.
     
  • Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended if travelling with persons 65 years and above, and/or who have a chronic medical illness such as heart, lung, liver diseases and diabetes, with a weakened immune system due to HIV infection or cancer, as well as people without a functioning spleen and those with sickle cell disease.

Other Travel Tips

It is advisable to bring along your child’s immunisation records when traveling. If your child has a special medical condition that requires you to bring along medications when abroad, get a doctor’s letter. 

It is also good to note that kids can get Malaria at any age. Your pediatrician may prescribe antimalarial drugs if you are going to certain destinations such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Middle East and parts of Europe. Despite malaria mortality rates diminishing by 42% since 2000, the disease still caused an estimated 627,000 deaths in 2012 alone, according to the World Health Organisation. In 2015, 97 countries and territories had ongoing malaria transmission. If you are taking anti-malarial medication, you should complete the full course of medication which usually lasts 1 month after returning from your trip.

Finally, be sure to pack a general travel-size medical kit. It should contain some first-aid items such as antiseptics, dressing bandages, insect repellent, thermometer, fever medicine, oral re-hydration salts (for diarrhea), sunscreen lotion (list is not exhaustive).

And don’t forget to purchase a medical/travel insurance!

Bon Voyage!


References: World Health Organisation 

This article is vetted and endorsed by Health Promotion Board. For more news about Safe Travel, visit: www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/health-article/5582
 


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