Vaccinations and travel

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011 ( 29 moms have responded )

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I know, everyone is groaning about yet another vaccine debate. But I haven't seen this one brought up before and I was going to post it in the Gardasil debate, but after all the warnings to keep it on topic, decided I'd better not. :)
My question is, for those who do not vaccinate your children, what if you were to travel outside of the country? What if you were to travel to a 3rd world country where vaccinations for things like measles and meningitis are not readily available and these diseases, as well as other, more deadly diseases, are epidemic? Would you still not vaccinate and just take your chances? Would you suddenly change your tune on the dangers of vaccines? Or are you just never going to travel out of your own country because of your fears of vaccinating?
Personally, having lived in a 3rd world country, I would never dream of taking my children back there to visit without them being fully vaccinated. I wouldn't even take them down to Mexico without Hep A vaccines!

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Jodi - posted on 01/02/2011

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Personally, I think it is selfish to travel to a country where a disease is endemic and not be vaccinated for it to prevent bringing it back home. Something like polio has not existed where I live for many years, because vaccination has eradicated it. To choose to travel to a region where it is rife totally unvaccinated and risk bringing it back to Australia is selfish.

Sharon - posted on 01/02/2011

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I personally find that hard to believe Kelly. so much so that I zapped off a phone call to our pediatrician, who works frequently on the other side of the US border in mexico and to the Doctors without Borders contacts.

I have no idea if I'll get a response but if I do, for certain I'll post it here.

I do know my pediatrician pushes vaccinations because of the waves of unvaccinated illegals who cross our paths here on the border.

He has admitted that he has several grandchildren, most are vaccinated, the ones that aren't have other issues. he didn't elaborate, I didn't ask.

Oh and just so people know, I don't pay my pediatrician for vaccinations. Nor does our insurance. We get them from a local clinic for free. But our ped. keeps us on track for when the kids are due for additional shots. So he gains NOTHING from me for vaccinations.

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Whew, stepped away from COM's for a while and I missed a couple of big debates. I didn't get to post on the Gardasil debate (I don't think it will surprise anyone here that recognises me to know that I am currently of the view that I wouldn't vaccinate my children with Gardasil). But anyhoo...

This is a really interesting question and one that as a non-vaccinating parent I have thought about extensively and wrestled with internally and I still do and probably always will. My current stance is that no, I probably wouldn't vaccinate for travel outside of the country and would limit travel to third world countries/countries with known epidemics of certain diseases until my children were old enough to make the informed decision to vaccinate for themselves; or until I felt more comfortable with my concerns regarding the impact of vaccinations on their development. I would be prepared and would prefer to undergo quarantine upon return to my country or prior to arrival/departure from another country if that was a requirement. I would also keep an open mind and would have to consider the individual 'required'/recommended travel vaccinations on their own merit before making the final decision. If I accepted that the potential benefit outweighed the potential risk of getting the vaccination, I would not consider that as 'suddenly changing my tune on the dangers of vaccines', I would still hold my same views but would take a calculated risk based on all the information I could gather.

One of my major concerns with childhood vaccinations is more to do with the additives/ingredients used in the manufacturing and storing of vaccines (and the unknown, potential impact of these on children, especially my children with a known familial history of adverse reaction to vaccines), as well as the sheer quantity required at such young ages by the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule here in Australia. I fully support and understand parents who have educated themselves and made the informed choice to vaccinate according to schedule, even though it is a different choice to the one I have made. I have chosen to hold off on vaccinations for my child, while continuing to educate and inform myself, keeping an open mind to the possibility of a delayed or alternative schedule in future (although currently still resistant to that, if I am completely honest. I just don't know when/if I will feel comfortable with giving my children vaccinations).

So while I am aware that travel vaccinations contain similar ingredients of concern and still have concerns about the "dangers of vaccines", I am slightly less concerned about exposing an adult (or a more developed immune system and body) to vaccination risks whether for travel or as preventative medicine. I have travelled outside of the country with my toddler (only from Australia to New Zealand) without any concern regarding his unvaccinated status or my partial vaccination status (I do not seroconvert all vaccines effectively, yet have acquired and maintained high levels of antibodies to childhood diseases that I was naturally exposed to). It may seem irresponsible to others that I would risk exposure and possibly bringing back a preventable disease to our country of origin. I can see how that would be a concern for others. But it is a calculated risk I have taken and not one that I undertook lightly or without consideration of the bigger picture.

Jakki - posted on 01/03/2011

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I have taken anti-malarials in the past without any problem, but because of all the potential problems people mentioned above, I'd think twice about embarking on them for myself or my kids. If we were only going to be in a malarial area for a short time, I would think of wearing long sleeves/pants and slapping repellent all over the place...

My husband took doxycycline as an anti-malaria years ago when we went on a 1-month trip to Vietnam, and it took his gut years to recover from all those anti-biotics. I don't know if it's true, but he says it gave him irritable bowel syndrome, poor thing.

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Jakki - posted on 09/02/2013

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....."Besides vaxed people seem to get sick more often and more seriously than their unvaxed counterparts"....

Is that right Sally?


Sigh...

Sally - posted on 08/27/2013

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Why would I take my kids to a third world country? There's plenty of awfulness right here we can gawk at with much less time and expense.
If they choose to travel as adults, they can weigh their options and the costs/benefits of those options for themselves.
Besides vaxed people seem to get sick more often and more seriously than their unvaxed counterparts, so if we had to travel for some reason, we'd probably just build the quarantine into our itinerary.

Jo - posted on 08/23/2013

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My opinions, by the way, are informed by years of research on the topic of vaccines and I also come from a medical family. One of my parents was a doctor who was sceptical about vaccines.

Not everyone in the wider family has adopted this view, however, and I have seen at first hand one of my nieces developing autism, asthma, excema, ADHD - you name it, the full barrage of auto-immune diseases, following the major round of vaccines they have at 18 months (or whenever it is now, it seems to get younger and younger with more and more vaccines). So she now has a lifetime of disability and is dependent on drugs to control his sleep/moods etc.

How can anyone argue that it would not have been preferable for her to have had measles? When I was young there were hardly any vaccines given to babies and I remember in my early childhood how healthy the children were. Hardly any obesity, allergies and asthma were very unusual. Excema was unusual as was autism.

If an ever-increasing vaccine load is supposed to lead to healthier children, why aren't children getting healthier?

Instead, we have a host of auto-immune diseases and a very profitable industry in long term drug use for even quite young children.

It's a disgrace.

Jo - posted on 08/23/2013

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One of my teenagers developed asthma and other health problems after a barrage of very expensive and mostly unnecessary vaccines when she went travelling in S.E Asia. Despite sticking to touristy places she was recommended (by the expensive vaccination travel clinic) practically every vaccine under the sun, including Japanese Encephalitis. Since coming back from travelling she is plagued by asthma and also suffers from allergies. In general, her health is not nearly as good as before. I have heard this from other parents of teenagers who have gone travelling too.

I checked out the pubmed reports on Japanese Encephalitis and, if you have the stamina to wade through the tiresome medical jargon, you will find a few medical sceptics who have done reports on the likelihood of a tourist developing this disease - in a perfectly reputable report the conclusion was that it was 1 in 3 million. In other words, the vaccine was totally unnecessary.

One of my other teenagers went to work in India in an orphanage. She was young enough to be influenced by me and the research I had done on vaccines and she had none. She was rigorous about hygiene and clean food and water and took all the precautions necessary to avoid stomach upset. She was absolutely fine - in fact she came back healthier than before. Many of her peers had had all the vaccines and some became quite ill because they were cavalier about their health (thinking they were safe because of vaccines). Some ended up on drips in hospital.

Anyway, the travel vaccine thing is, in my opinion, a complete con. I never have any now. I think they damage your health and lead people to a false sense of security about the real dangers of travelling in third world countries, which are dangerous roads and unclean food/water.

Mother - posted on 01/02/2011

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Its ALL scary shit. I honestly didn't know ANYTHING about anti-malarials until this moment. I've never looked into them so you've enlightened me SO MUCH!! They sound awful. You grew up in Africa??? How amazing!!

Becky - posted on 01/02/2011

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I'll be honest with you, the anti-malarials scare me far more than any of the vaccines I got to go over there. They are nasty shit! Some of the old ones have been linked to blood diseases and one of the common ones now - Mephloquine (sure I spelled that wrong) can give you very graphic dreams and has been known to cause depression and suicidal thoughts. I think it's been linked to Gulf War syndrome too. I took it last time I went out and had to quit because it made me so nauseous I couldn't eat until 4 in the afternoon. Another one, Doxycycline (a Tetracycline derivative) can burn a hole in your espophagus if you don't take it with enough water. This happened to a friend of mine. So it's scary stuff. On the other hand, malaria is deadly. Millions of people die from it every year. And it's just a very unpleasant and uncomfortable illness too. If I were to travel to Africa, which I do plan to do eventually, to show my kids where I grew up, I have no problem with getting them all the vaccinations, but giving them the anti-malarials scares me. Although, the idea of them getting malaria scares me more. It's a real dilemma for me. And why we likely won't go until they're quite a bit older.

Mother - posted on 01/02/2011

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Good point Becky. I'm not sure if I would or not. I would want to read what the medicine entailed first and what the ingredients were.

Becky - posted on 01/02/2011

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If you traveled to an area where Malaria was endemic, Kelly, would take anti-malarials? (they're oral, not a vaccine) Just curious.

Mother - posted on 01/02/2011

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Got a call back and was told to go here.
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2...

It explains that if you refuse the required vaccine for that country upon arrival and you DON'T have a medical exemption they CAN quarantine you for up to 6 days. I was right about the exemptions....only a medical exemption will work to travel. Hope that helps :)

Mother - posted on 01/02/2011

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Well check it out for yourself. The only Mandatory vaccination is yellow fever. If you wish exemption from this I'm sure only a medical professional or health official can give you one....so your religious or philisophical exemptions I don't think can be used. Again, don't mark my words....maybe all exemptions would work.

Check it out for yourself. Matters not what you find hard to believe, its there in black and white.
http://www.who.int/ith/chapters/en/index...

Mother - posted on 01/02/2011

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What a great topic. I wouldn't vaccinate. And you do not have to be vaccinated to go anywhere. Lots of hoops to jump thru tho. There are exemptions for everything but I think you need a medical exemption....don't quote me as I'm not sure. A few phone calls could certainly clarify tho. We did a huge fund raiser for Doctors without Borders and this was an issue considering alot of the physicians did not vaccinate. I do know a couple did in fact go get vaccinated. It was probably a ratio of 70:30.

Bonnie - posted on 01/02/2011

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I'm curious to hear about this too. I know of someone who does not vaccinate (just an acquaintance), they will not travel anywhere that requires you to have your vaccinations. So I guess for those who feel that much against it would just avoid travelling in general.

Katherine - posted on 01/01/2011

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So if you want to travel, it would behoove you to get vaxed. No doubt.

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011

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It depends where you go. In Mali and Niger, you couldn't get an entry visa without submitting proof that you had been vaccinated for Yellow Fever. The other vaccinations were just recommended. When we went to St. Lucia for our honeymoon, no vaccines were required, but Hep A was recommended.

Jodi - posted on 01/01/2011

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Katherine, it's not so much that you are required to, but you may be held in quarantine if you don't. I was vaccinated for Yellow fever for Botswana and Zimbabwe, and was told that if I didn't get the vaccination, I wouldn't have been able to go back into either South Africa, or back into Australia until I was held in quarantine. Not sure how long that would have been, but not an option I wanted to consider.

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011

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Maybe not, Sharon. Maybe anti-vaxers haven't thought about the world that exists outside their front door and the possibility that they may one day come into contact with it.

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I suppose those children who remain unvaxed will remain in a bubble, not able to travel without the possibility of getting gravely ill. But you have to remember that remaining in a modern country doesn;t protect an unvaxed child either. You never know if the man in back or front of you in the grocery line is vaccinated against a particular illness, or if he came from a 3rd world country, or is a carrier of a disease. IMO, I don;t think you will get a serious response to this question.

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011

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Haha Kati! :) Which will be immensly helpful, since hepatitis A and cholera, and I think Typhoid too, are food/water borne and Yellow Fever is spread by mosquitos!

Kate CP - posted on 01/01/2011

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THIS, is an excellent question, Becky. I'm very curious about this, too. *applauds*

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