The Importance of Vaccinations Before Travel

The importance of vaccinations before international travel is widely known. Yet why are we still constantly dropping the ball on this? A majority of infants, toddlers, and school-age children were not vaccinated at a pre-trial consultation for US pediatric international travelers. According to JAMA Pediatrics, “with more than 1000 [measles] cases in the first 6 months of 2019…pediatric travelers account for 47% of all known measles importations.”

Importance of MMR Vaccination

Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination before traveling is a hot topic as of late. We are seeing the largest outbreak in the U.S. since 2000, with more than 1200 reported cases in 2019. It was discovered that either the clinician did not recognize eligibility or the parents refused to vaccinate their child. Although parents get the final say in whether or not they vaccinate their children, experts at the CDC highly recommend it when visiting a different country. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) even suggests the vaccine for children visiting low-risk places. From 2001 to 2016, Europe accounted for 30% of the measles cases among passengers returning to the U.S. Parents who choose to forego routine vaccinations for their children may want to at least consider MMR vaccination and recognize the severity of the measles.

Vaccination Eligibility

The importance of vaccinations starts in infancy. In a study by MA General Hospital, young travelers were shown to represent “less than 10 percent of U.S. international travelers.” That number is low, however almost half the measles outbreaks start with children. One expert stated that children 6 months to school-age likely haven’t had the vaccine and should be required to have it before traveling internationally. At 6 to 12 months old infants should get the shot before traveling but still receive their two lifetime doses at the appropriate ages. Measles can result in hospitalization, severe neurological disease, and death, so it is of the utmost importance that parents mind their child’s vaccination history before traveling.

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