UAE doctors emphasise pre-travel vaccinations for kids this Eid and summer

Post-pandemic, over 3 million children miss routine immunisation — fuelling global disease outbreak, warn doctors

by

Nandini Sircar

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File Photo. Image used for illustrative purposes
File Photo. Image used for illustrative purposes

Published: Tue 11 Jun 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 11 Jun 2024, 10:25 PM

Healthcare professionals in the UAE are urging residents to ensure that their children’s immunisation schedules are up to date in preparation for Eid al Adha or summer travel.

They pointed out that a landmark study set to be published in The Lancet reveals that global immunisation efforts have saved an estimated 154 million lives over the past 50 years from 1974 to 2024.


That’s equivalent to six lives every minute of every year. The majority of these lives saved – 101 million – were infants.

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Why is vaccinating children in advance important?

However, in the same vein, doctors here also highlighted that post Covid-19, a significant number of children have missed their routine vaccination.

“After the pandemic, more than 3 million children missed their routine immunisation. As a result, the world is seeing outbreaks of measles, mumps, and rubella infections. Therefore, please boost your immunity with these routine vaccines before travel,” said Dr Renuka Ramasamy, Specialist Family Medicine, International Modern Hospital, Dubai.

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

Ramasamy said, “Immunisation works by producing antibodies against that particular pathogen and strengthens the immune system. So, in case one gets infected with the same pathogen again, there will be a fight against the infective organism and antibodies will be produced from vaccines."

Dr Renuka Ramasamy. Photo: Supplied
Dr Renuka Ramasamy. Photo: Supplied

"Vaccines will give full protection from the infection. This process takes time. It could be 2 to 4 weeks depending on different vaccines. Therefore, it’s mandatory to get your vaccines ahead of time for full protection,” she added.

Catch-up schedules

Healthcare professionals highlighted that while most parents are committed to their child’s vaccination schedule, they occasionally encounter parents citing different excuses.

Ramasamy said, “We do see a lot of parents coming to clinics with missed vaccinations due to various reasons. Some parents say, ‘my baby cries when she gets the shot' or 'my child is too young to get so many vaccines’.”

However, she reassured parents and said, “If you lapse in the immunisation schedule, it does not require restitution of the entire series. The subsequent dose can be given as the usual dose. Visit your family doctor and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Doctors also shed light on the Expanded Program on Immunisation [EPI] schedule of the World Health Organisation that states that all children should be vaccinated in an up-to-date manner.

“When it comes to travel, there are various factors. It depends upon your travel destination, travel duration, planned activities, and health status. [For example,] typhoid fever A bacterial infection can be spread through contaminated water or food. If you are travelling to Asian and African countries, it is better to get a vaccine against it,” said Ramasamy.

She explained that the vaccine for malaria is a must if residents travel to endemic countries. “It’s better to take malaria prophylaxis from UAE doctors,” she added.

Preemptive vaccination

Experts have pointed out that parents need 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.

Dr Haitham Elsayed Elsadek. Photo: Supplied
Dr Haitham Elsayed Elsadek. Photo: Supplied

Dr Haitham Elsayed Elsadek, Specialist Pediatric And Neonatologist, Al Zahra Hospital said, “Parents should ensure that children are up to date with their compulsory vaccines like MMR, polio, chickenpox, and hepatitis B before travel, as well as the optional vaccine specifically related to their destination of travel such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Meningococcal vaccine.”

Preemptive vaccination prevents diseases that are endemic in travel destinations, protecting children and preventing potential outbreaks.

Dr Fatima Mohamad Shahin. Photo: Supplied
Dr Fatima Mohamad Shahin. Photo: Supplied

Dr Fatima Mohamad Shahin, Specialist Paediatric at Zulekha Hospital Sharjah said, “Care should be taken to adhere to the dates in the vaccination schedule. Some of these diseases may affect a child as his/her immune system hasn’t yet fully developed. If a child contracts a virus, it could result in serious complications at times.”

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