Vaccines recommended for travel – holiday edition

For those traveling out of the U.S. for the winter holidays, many children should be getting travel vaccinations.  Although most vaccinations recommended for travel for children are already given routinely, several are suggested to be given at an earlier age prior to upcoming international travel.  High on this list are those for Hepatitis A and measles.  Although vaccines both are normally given at age 1 year, both are currently recommended by the CDC for infants to be given earlier – between 6 and 11 months old – for ANY international travel (for measles) and to most of the world, with the exceptions of Canada, western Europe New Zealand, Australia and Japan (for Hepatitis A).  Luckily, these are vaccines that your pediatrician’s office already has in stock!  See CDC.gov/travel for complete information.

Hepatitis A:

Until recently, Hepatitis A vaccine was already given starting at age 12 months to infants in the U.S.  If travel to a high-risk area was anticipated, the only option before 1 year of age was to give IgG, also called “gamma globulin.”  However, since this is a human blood product, this is not ideal at any age.  Now, Hep A vaccine can be given at the age of 6 months or older.  The CDC press release states “People 1 year of age and older who are traveling to or working in countries where they would have a high or intermediate risk of hepatitis A virus, should strongly consider the Hepatitis A vaccine.  These areas include all parts of the world except Canada, western Europe and Scandinavia, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.”  The following quote is taken from the CDC website: 

“Infants aged 6–11 months. HepA vaccine should be administered to infants aged 6–11 months traveling outside the United States when protection against HAV is recommended.”

Measles:

Similarly, measles vaccine is routinely given starting at 12 months in the U.S., but since measles is endemic (common and widespread) in many countries, for several years it has been recommended that infants from 6-11 months receive a measles vaccine (that is, MMR) prior to travel.  Again, the CDC’s language:

“People 6 months of age and older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles. Before any international travel—

Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine.

**It is important to add that these doses of MMR and Hep A vaccines do not “count” towards the 2 doses of each that they will still need to get later on according to the standard vaccination schedule.

There are also numerous other vaccines and medications recommended for international travel.  For example, for travel to many parts of the world, it is recommended to get typhoid and yellow fever vaccines.  Likewise, for many destinations it is highly recommended to use medication to prevent malaria, which can be done safely and effectively for infants as small as 11 lbs.  See CDC.gov/travel for more information.

Author: marcgrella

Primary care pediatrician; vaccine advocate; hunger fighter; refugee supporter.

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