Travel Vaccinations for Babies, Toddlers & Young Children

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Gah. One more thing to worry about…
Travel Vaccinations for Babies & Toddlers

Once I got a notice that my son’s vaccination records needed updating before he could enter Grade 2. Yes, that adorably chubby baby who took his first trip at a mere 10 weeks (Quebec City, if you’re curious) was 7-years-old! Fortunately, I knew he was up-to-date on his vaccinations. It was a matter of phoning the Public Health office and updating their records. Easy peasy.

Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

But that reminder brought me back to planning our first family vacation with our daughter before she was a year old. It was Varadero, Cuba, if you’re curious. Because we were traveling to the Caribbean, I had questions about necessary travel vaccinations for babies. So I consulted with our family doctor.

She advised that the main health concerns for the Caribbean and Mexico, outside of mosquito-borne diseases, are Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Hepatitis A is not a serious illness for babies. Infants are very low risk for Hepatitis B (transmitted via infected blood). She felt those vaccines weren’t necessary. And that our recommended immunization schedule was enough to protect her.

Ready to Go

I was vaccinated against Hep A and Hep B via the Twinrix vaccine for a (sadly, cancelled) trip to Ethiopia and South Africa. So, we were free to enjoy our vacation, with the usual precautions for staying healthy while traveling like scrupulous hand washing, avoiding food you can’t peel or heat, and trying our best to avoid insect bites.

And to date (and I’m totally knocking wood here) we have been very lucky. We have not have taken ill during any trips to the Caribbean or Mexico.

Travel Vaccinations for Babies and Children: Routine Vaccinations

For most destinations in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and Australia, your routine immunizations are enough to protect you and your child against diseases and illnesses mostly eradicated in North America (but still very much present in some parts of the world).

By age six, a child should be fully immunized against many diseases that can cause serious illness and even death. Including :

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Whooping cough (Pertussis)
  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Pneumococcal conjugate
  • Rotavirus
  • Hepatitis B

Beyond North America

But if you plan on visiting countries outside of North America, you may consider (or) require additional travel vaccinations for babies , toddlers, or children.

Here is a look at a few that may be necessary…

Travel Vaccinations for Babies and Children: Cholera & Traveler’s Diarrhea

Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by a bacteria called Vibrio cholerae. It is found in contaminated water in places with contaminated water and poor sanitation. Cholera is more commonly found in Asia, India, and Africa. As of February 2024 there is a multi-country outbreak of Cholera.

Haiti is currently experiencing a deadly outbreak. So, Haiti’s connected neighbour (Dominican Republic) is also affected. See the WHO’s cholera map, here. The diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and even kidney failure or death. If caught early most have a full recovery through the use of antibiotics.

Traveller’s Diarrhea 🙁

But the lion’s share of people who experience traveler’s diarrhea can thank a strain of E. coli bacteria called Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC). It is the most common cause of diarrhea in travelers to the Caribbean and Latin America, including Mexico. Food not adequately cooked and also contaminated water and ice is where ETEC is lurking.

Most large resorts have their own in-house water purification systems. Prior to your trip, have a quick consult with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss travel vaccination options. The same vaccine for cholera is also effective against ETEC. And certain vaccines are available for children as young as two.

Please click here for more information on cholera and travel.

Travel Vaccinations for Babies and Children: Hepatitis A Vaccine

When my children were babies, Hepatitis B was added to their routine vaccination schedule. And Hepatitis A does not present a serious risk to babies and small children, so I didn’t bother immunizing my kids against it. I was vaccinated. However, if you or someone in your family are immunocompromised, or you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, consider giving the Hepatitis A vaccine to your child to prevent them from spreading it.

Hepatitis A occurs worldwide but is more common in regions with poor sanitation and lack of safe food and water. Children can receive the Hepatitis vaccine after their first birthday. You must give two doses at least six months apart. And the Hepatitis vaccine offers protection for at least 20 years, if not longer.

Please click here for more information on Hepatitis A and travel.

Travel Vaccinations for Babies and Children: Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus is transmitted to humans primarily through infected mosquitos.

JE occurs mainly in south east Asia and in parts of the western Pacific, primarily in rural areas. JE is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. The risk of getting JE is low for most travelers, particularly for short-term visitors to major urban areas. Most infections present no symptoms. Only a small fraction of people infected with the JE virus actually develop the disease.

However, when encephalitis occurs, it is usually severe, and often fatal or permanently damaging.

JE vaccine is not authorized for use in children under 18. Usage may be considered in high risk circumstances. Two separate doses are administered 28 days apart.

Please click here for more information on Japanese Encephalitis and travel

Travel Vaccinations for Babies and Children: Rabies Vaccine

So I am seriously regretting letting my kids pet and play with all those stray cats and dogs we often see at the beach, especially after taking a look at the WHO’s Rabies risk map (hello, Mexico and the Caribbean). Rabies is a rare viral infection that affects the central nervous system. Humans commonly contract rabies from an infected animal’s bite.

Consider the pre-travel rabies vaccine if you’re traveling to a destination with a particularly high risk. Toddlers and small children may not listen when you tell them to avoid animals. They may also not report a bite. The pre-travel rabies vaccination for babies and toddlers is given in the deltoid muscle for older children and adults and into the upper thigh muscle in infants. The pre-exposure vaccine is three needles. You get two needles a week apart. And the third needle is administered between the 21st and 28th day after the first.

Rabies Shots for Kids

As a kid we heard that if you got rabies, you needed 16 needles in the stomach. That sounds horrible until you consider that rabies is most often fatal. Post-exposure, however, there is hope and it’s less horrifying than before . And it’s certainly less horrifying than dying of rabies.

Post-exposure protocol includes local wound treatment and a shot given on day 0 with as much as possible in and around the wound. Then, four doses of rabies vaccine given on days 0, 3, 7 and 14. Lastly, a fifth needle should be given on day 28 to those taking anti-malarials. Immunocompromised people and those who did not receive the pre-travel vaccine also require a fifth needle.

Please click here for more information on Rabies and travel.

Travel Vaccinations for Babies and Children: Typhoid Vaccine

Typhoid fever is transmitted by ingesting food and water contaminated with the feces of people with the disease (or who are chronic carriers).

Symptoms range from mild illness with low-grade fever to severe systemic disease with abdominal perforation and extra-intestinal infection that, if untreated, may be fatal.

Typhoid Vaccines

Three types of typhoid vaccines provide approximately 50% protection against the disease. Typh-1 vaccine protection lasts for three years. Next, there is a Typh-1 version combined with hepatitis A. Lastly, the Typh-O vaccine is administered orally and protection lasts for seven years.

Typhoid immunization is recommended for most travellers to South Asia who are two and older. Countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is not routinely recommended for travel outside of South Asia.

Please click here for more information on Typhoid fever and travel.

Travel Vaccinations for Babies and Children: Yellow Fever Vaccine

Yellow Fever (YF) is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted to humans through bites from infected mosquito. YellowFever is endemic and intermittently epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. It is also present in certain parts of the Caribbean.

However, the risk for getting YF is low, especially if staying in highly developed urban areas.

Where to get Yellow Fever Vaccine

Yellow Fever vaccination is unique among mosquito-borne illnesses. You must present proof of vaccination when traveling to at-risk countries. In Canada, the Yellow Fever vaccine is only available at specialized travel clinics.

The Yellow Fever vaccine is one of the recommended travel vaccinations for babies over nine-months-old if visiting high-risk destinations. Infants from six to eight months may be considered if traveling to areas with the highest risk of Yellow Fever.

Please click here for more information on travel and Yellow Fever.

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See Also:

Have Baby Will Travel is not a medical site. Direct questions regarding travel vaccinations for babies, toddlers, and young children to your pediatrician, family doctor, or an accredited travel clinic.

Valneva Canada supports this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Image courtesy Biggishben/Wikimedia Commons

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4 Responses to Travel Vaccinations for Babies, Toddlers & Young Children

  1. Ali May at #

    A great reminder about how important it is to be prepared! Gosh, I couldn’t imagine not taking every precaution for my little one before travelling to places that are known for some of these diseases.

  2. Great post! Every parent should prioritize getting their kids vaccinated to protect them from various health threats.

  3. Love these tips.
    Keep up to good work with the blog.

  4. If you are searching for the best clinics for travel vaccination in New York then Travel Clinic NY is here for you. The price of their vaccination is very affordable. You can visit this clinic easily. Because of this clinic located in the most convenient location in New York. Highly recommended!

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