We’re currently based in Melbourne, so my GP recommended we visit the travel doctor at the Royal Children’s Hospital to check what immunisations our daughter had to have, if any, before we depart for Indonesia.
Firstly, if you intend to visit the RCH travel Dr, book early as they have a very full schedule. Don’t forget to get a referral from your GP so you can get the Medicare rebate.
I asked about TB immunisation, as friends of ours based in Indonesia had recently had their 2 month old son immunised in Melbourne before their return. As our upcoming trip is only for two weeks, he suggested it wasn’t necessary but that we should get our daughter immunised within the next 6 months if we intend to live in Indonesia in the future (definitely a possibility). We will get her tested to check she hasn’t been exposed to TB.
The second thing the Dr covered was her routine vaccines. Our daughter is up to date, but he suggested accelerating her 6 month vaccine (she is currently 5 months) to allow for extra protection.
The case for accelerating the routine vaccination schedule is considered if a young child is travelling over a prolonged period and may therefore miss their scheduled vaccinations, or if a child is travelling to an area where diseases such as polio, hepatitis B or measles are more prevalent. The vaccines that can be accelerated include diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTP), haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), hepatitis B, inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines.9 If MMR and varicella vaccines are given before the recommended age, repeat doses will be required. It should be noted that there are recommendations about the minimum interval to next dose for each vaccine2 and these should be checked for individual vaccines.
The dr didn’t advise getting the accelerated MMR vaccine as our daughter still has a degree of protection from what she received from the placenta during pregnancy. This begins to decline at 6 months, which is why infants between the ages of 6-12 months are most vulnerable to the illnesses the MMR (meatless, mumps, rubella) vaccine covers.
He emphasised the importance of protection against mosquito bites, using deet containing represent and mosquito nets. We also used an excellent natural bug repellant for some extra protection. We will be vigilant and both my husband and I have had dengue fever, and know that it is a horrible thing to have.
He also said I can ‘relax’ a little, and that he sees children before they visit much riskier places than Indonesia.