Travelling this summer? UAE doctors urge parents to ensure children are vaccinated in advance

They say some must-have immunisations for children include those against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), polio and hepatitis B


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 12 Jul 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jul 2023, 10:59 PM

Healthcare professionals in the UAE are reminding residents, urging them to ensure that their children's immunisation schedule is up to date in preparation for summer travel.

Additionally, they stress the significance of vaccinating their children in advance, as it allows sufficient time for the vaccines to generate the required protection prior to embarking on their travels.

Dr Sarra Abu El-Gasim, Consultant General Paediatrician, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, said: “Immunisations work by strengthening a child’s immune system and increasing protection to an infection before they come into contact with that infection. In other words, it is like being infected with the disease without suffering from actual symptoms.Ideally this should be done a few weeks before their travel to allow time for any vaccinations they might need to become fully effective.”

Medics highlight every year that vaccinations prevent up to 3 million deaths worldwide.

They say some must-have immunisations for children include, “those against measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus (DPT), polio, and hepatitis B. Vaccines may also be recommended based on travel destinations. It is essential for parents to consult a healthcare professional or visit a travel clinic for advice on specific travel-related vaccinations, such as typhoid, yellow fever, or meningococcal vaccines,” says Abu El-Gasim.

Region-specific immunisation crucial in preventing illness and complications

Dr Osama Elsayed Rezk Elassy, clinical assistant professor, consultant and head of the division, Centre for Pediatrics and Neonatology, Thumbay University Hospital, said: “Before heading out on a summer break with children, it's really important for parents to make sure the child’s immunisations are up to date. You want to keep them healthy and shielded from vaccine-preventable diseases that they might come across while traveling. Different regions mean different germs, so having the right vaccines can help prevent any potential illness or complications.”

Doctors advise that apart from the mandatory vaccines, annual influenza vaccination is also important, especially during the flu season or for travel to regions with higher influenza activity.

“For children above 5 years of age, it is ideal to ensure they receive the second dose of the chickenpox vaccine and at least one dose of the typhoid vaccine. Additionally, at the age of 10, they should receive a DT (diphtheria and tetanus) vaccine along with a Hepatitis B booster. At 12 years and above, it is recommended to administer the first dose of the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine, followed by the second dose six months later. Lastly, every ten years, children should receive a DT vaccine to maintain their protection,” adds Elassy.

While healthcare professionals say that parents in the UAE receive regular updates from their child's clinic, it has also been noted that the majority of parents proactively stay informed about their children’s vaccination schedule.

Dr Joy Fragante Taclas, Specialist Paediatrician with Prime Medical Centre Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, said: “All immunisations as per age are a must and should be updated. It’s also very important for everyone to understand that (through vaccinations) not only are they protecting themselves but also protecting the community they are visiting. Thus, preventing the occurrence or carriers of disease and spreading to other countries.”

She adds: “It is also of importance to vaccinate ahead of time for them to produce the necessary protection prior to travelling.”

Travel tips for protecting children

Meanwhile, during the holidays and especially while travelling, doctors reiterate that parents should make sure that their children remain protected from the sun and follow other necessary steps for a safe and hassle-free holiday.

“Use sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing, and avoiding excessive sun exposure. Keeping them hydrated, especially in hot climates is key. Don't forget to use insect repellents to ward off bugs and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. Also, pay attention to food and water safety, opting for safe and well-cooked meals. Good hygiene, like regular hand washing, is a must. It's also essential to pack necessary medications and a basic first aid kit. Remember, allowing your children enough rest and sleep during the vacation is vital for their overall well-being,” says Dr Elassy.


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