Congratulations! Your child is travelling abroad for higher studies. You are the proud parent.
However, along with this happiness also comes a slight anxiety. Anxiety because your child is leaving home and is going to be in a new country. This would require a lot of adjustments and as a parent, you also worry about your child’s health. How your child is going to cope in a new environment with different climatic conditions.
Students may spend a semester, a year or few years abroad pursuing their academics. If your child is planning to study abroad, ensure that they stay safe and healthy during their stay. Make sure that all routine vaccinations are up to date. Routine vaccinations are important as they protect you from infectious diseases, like measles, chickenpox that can spread quickly in groups of unvaccinated people or people staying together on campus.
The routine vaccines needed before travel may depend on your age, health, and vaccine history. You may need to get a booster dose before traveling.
There are several vaccinations that students should consider getting before traveling abroad for higher studies, especially if they will be studying in a country where certain diseases are more prevalent. Some vaccines that students may need to consider
- COVID-19– If you have already received the vaccine, you must carry your updated covid vaccine certificate.
- Chickenpox (Varicella) – 2 doses of varicella vaccine may be required as varicella infection causes severe illness and campus breakout affecting student population.
- Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B– These vaccines protect against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, both of which are viral infections that can cause serious liver damage
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)– is not mandatory but is preferable to take it as it protects against cervical cancer , penile cancer , certain forms of oral cancer
- Influenza – This vaccine protects against the flu, which can be a serious illness, especially for people with underlying health conditions and is spread very rapidly on campus
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella – This vaccine protects against the three viral diseases which can be serious , especially for people with compromised immune systems
- Meningococcal– This vaccine protects against meningitis, which is an infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be serious and even life-threatening, so it is important to be vaccinated if you will be living in close quarters with other people (such as in a dormitory).
- Typhoid vaccine– is another important vaccine which needs to be taken. A large number of youth love to hang out with friends and eat out. Typhoid is food and water borne disease and chances of getting typhoid is high in this age group.
- Pneumococcal vaccine may be taken if the individual has repeated respiratory infections or has allergic response to certain allergens. This is not a mandatory vaccine but is helpful for students who have lower immunity and are travelling to areas of colder climates.
You may wish to discuss your child’s vaccination needs with your doctor before travelling abroad for higher university studies. Some vaccines may require multiple doses, so it’s best to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. It is best to start the vaccination schedule well in advance so that there is adequate time to complete the required vaccinations. Certain booster doses would help to maintain the immunity for longer period of time.
Vaccines would also be decided based on your university requirements and also on your age, health history and specific country that you would be studying. It is essential to take your vaccines from proper certified medical centre where cold chain for vaccines is maintained. Maintaining cold chain for vaccines is essential as it maintains the efficacy of the vaccine. Proper vaccine records with vaccine stickers must be maintained after vaccination and submitted to the embassy. It is always advisable to maintain vaccine records carefully as they may be required at a later point of time as well, in case of travel to other countries or also for employment.
Hence, vaccination for students travelling abroad is very important not only for the purpose of documentation for visa but also for their health, safety and prevention of diseases. Vaccines not only protect the person who has been vaccinated but also protects others who are not vaccinated by creating herd immunity.
Dr. Paula Goel is a Consultant Pediatrician, Adolescent Physician and Founder of Fayth Clinic. The views expressed are the author’s own.
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