Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Vaccine travel advice: It’s time to have a National Vaccine Travel Advisory

The CDC regularly updates its Travel Health Notices and issues Travel Advisories, which inform American travelers about current health situations to specific international destinations on its website.

India is home to large variety of infectious diseases, which are endemic in different parts of the country.

So, when Americans and other international travelers are advised by their national public health bodies to take certain vaccines when traveling to India, why do we not have a National travel advisory for vaccines in place for interstate travel or when we travel from urban India to rural India?

We have attempted to draw up such a list and welcome your additions and suggestions on the same.

You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination in India. Routine vaccines include: MMR, DPT, polio vaccine, hepatitis B, yearly flu and pneumonia.

Some additional vaccines may also be required for travel.

·         Hepatitis A: The infection may be acquired through contaminated food or water in India, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
·         Typhoid: One can get typhoid by eating or drinking contaminated food or water in India. If you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
·         Cholera: This vaccine is recommended for adults who are traveling to areas of active cholera transmission.
·         Malaria: Opt for malaria prophylaxis when traveling to any part of India, especially if traveling to areas of high endemicity; also if you are visiting low-altitude areas except none in areas >2,000 m (6,562 ft) in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim.
·         Japanese encephalitis: Consider JE vaccine, if your trip will last more than a month in areas with JE or rural areas or you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, even for trips shorter than a month.
·         Rabies: Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in India. Therefore, the following groups should take pre-exposure rabies vaccination. All travelers involved in outdoor and other activities (such as camping, hiking, biking, adventure travel, and caving) that put them at risk for animal bites or people who will be working with or around animals (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and researchers) or people who are taking long trips and children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.
·         Yellow fever: There is no risk of yellow fever in India.
·         Deworming: All should take deworming tablet twice a year: 10th February (National Deworming Day) and 10th August (2nd round of National Deworming Day)
·         Meningococcal meningitis: People who travel to attend fairs and festivals, should take a single dose of bivalent vaccine 10-14 days before the scheduled visit. 

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA



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