non vaxed toddler and international travel - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 07-10-2010, 11:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,

We have not and have no plans to vax 15 mo old DD for a variety of reasons. We have a supportive pediatrician and family and things have been pretty mellow about our decision.

However we are leaving at the end of the month to go to the UK to visit her English family (DH's family) and somehow now people (mainly my Dad) are starting to get freaked about us not vaxing her and taking her on an international flight to another country. She's already been on a trip once to Hawaii, and IMO, since the UK is a pretty western country I don't see many more risks of exposure to VPDs there than in Hawaii, but my the concerns of my family have made me get a little nervous. I have not heard anything about outbreaks of VPDs in the UK at this point, so I do think that it is just random worry on their part. However since people have been so supportive of our decision up until now it did shake me up a little to have these conversations.

So I am wondering if any of you have info about travel with a non vaxed toddler to Europe? Any concerns of note? Any personal stories of BTDT?

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#2 of 11 Old 07-10-2010, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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PS...I did read on the CDC website about the worldwide upsurge in Measles cases, and how there have been documented cases in the UK in the last few years...But it didn't seem like a outbreak or anything out of the ordinary, and to me not something that seems like giving her the MMR vaccine is warranted.

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#3 of 11 Old 07-10-2010, 11:53 PM
 
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Nukuspot, I just happened to wander over here and spotted your post. I have a 8 year old dd who is completely unvaxed (in fact, so are dh and I) and recently we traveled to Rwanda and Ethiopia via Rome. While I can't speak for what you may encounter in the particular area you are traveling to, I can speak to a few things that I think would be applicable to your circumstances.

We went back and forth about vaxing dd before our travels to Rwanda. As you can imagine, we received a lot of "concern" from others regarding her health status. One doctor even told me that I was risking her life, and the life of the infant we were traveling to adopt . (I didn't really get that, since ds was living in a disease prone orphanage in a third world country and it seemed like what I was doing was possibly saving his life, but I digress....). At any rate, it was easy to feel real doubt and fear about our choices and the possible impact they may have on our daughter.

What we did was to take each potential disease and look at the real risk of the disease, the course of action should she get a disease, and the real risk of the vaccine. I was surprised to learn that there weren't too many things I was overly concerned about, and I felt very educated about each potential threat and how to minimize each risk. For instance we wanted to avoid TB so we did not use any public transportation in Africa. We also kept her away from spending time on the floor where every kid would touch her at the orphanage. I was most concerned about flu and her highest risk of getting that was on the plane I figured, so I did everything I could to mitigate that risk.

We:
1) Boosted our immune systems for few weeks prior to travel
2) Brought along wipes for easy handsanitizing, had strict handwashing policies
3) Used tea tree and grapefruit seed extract to wipe surfaces of trays, etc in airport/airplane
4) Brought herbs and remedies for cases where we might get sick, like garlic, vitamin c in megadoses, grapefruit seed extract (taken internally it kills tons of organisms).

And I also contacted an herbalist who was helping us to boost our immune systems. She pointed out the fact that we would significantly weaken our immune systems if we vaxed before we traveled. The vax would lower our ability to fight off anything leaving us more susceptible to the disease than if we remained vax free. This point was the one that gave us certainty that what we were doing was the safest, well thought out, best we could do for our daughter.

Hope something here helps! Good luck.

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missing Trace Oak candle.gif 10/25/06

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#4 of 11 Old 07-11-2010, 12:17 AM
 
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We've travelled internationally a lot with our two unvaxed kids...Europe, Australia, New Zealand, stops in Asia.

It's honestly never been an issue or concern for me. The PP had lots of good advice about small measures to stay healthy, prevent infection etc. I pack hand sanitizer and wipes just because planes are filthy. But I also make sure the kids are eating as healthy as possible before and during travelling, they take their supplements if needed, and that's about it. Adequate rest too, obviously.

The bigger issue as I see it is your father's opinions. Sure, he can be worried, but if he's "freaking out" about it to you (as you mentioned), then I'd say, "Thanks for the concern, Dad, but we're the parents here, and it's our decision," and ask him to drop the issue.

Good luck!

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#5 of 11 Old 07-11-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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Probably there is a more chance of catching something here in the US where you meet people from all over the world, than In Europe where you don't see that many immigrants.Think about this that way-You take your child to the store/church/library/playgrounds and he/she has a contact with different kids/adults that could be from different countries,maybe just came back from vacation so the risk is the same or even maybe grater here where you can see people from 10 different country/with different diseases in one place when you go to Europe you don't see that and as long as it's not a 'third world' it is fine to take a child that wasn't vaccinated for a vacation.

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#6 of 11 Old 07-11-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chelsey1987 View Post
Probably there is a more chance of catching something here in the US where you meet people from all over the world, than In Europe where you don't see that many immigrants.Think about this that way-You take your child to the store/church/library/playgrounds and he/she has a contact with different kids/adults that could be from different countries,maybe just came back from vacation so the risk is the same or even maybe grater here where you can see people from 10 different country/with different diseases in one place when you go to Europe you don't see that and as long as it's not a 'third world' it is fine to take a child that wasn't vaccinated for a vacation.
With all due respect, the European Union boasts a wonderfully diverse and thriving immigrant population. We are not the only country to be proud of the diversity our immigrant population offers.

::: Just another WAHM using this forum to put off picking up toys and cleaning my house.
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#7 of 11 Old 07-11-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ariahsmum View Post
Nukuspot, I just happened to wander over here and spotted your post. I have a 8 year old dd who is completely unvaxed (in fact, so are dh and I) and recently we traveled to Rwanda and Ethiopia via Rome. While I can't speak for what you may encounter in the particular area you are traveling to, I can speak to a few things that I think would be applicable to your circumstances.

We went back and forth about vaxing dd before our travels to Rwanda. As you can imagine, we received a lot of "concern" from others regarding her health status. One doctor even told me that I was risking her life, and the life of the infant we were traveling to adopt . (I didn't really get that, since ds was living in a disease prone orphanage in a third world country and it seemed like what I was doing was possibly saving his life, but I digress....). At any rate, it was easy to feel real doubt and fear about our choices and the possible impact they may have on our daughter.

What we did was to take each potential disease and look at the real risk of the disease, the course of action should she get a disease, and the real risk of the vaccine. I was surprised to learn that there weren't too many things I was overly concerned about, and I felt very educated about each potential threat and how to minimize each risk. For instance we wanted to avoid TB so we did not use any public transportation in Africa. We also kept her away from spending time on the floor where every kid would touch her at the orphanage. I was most concerned about flu and her highest risk of getting that was on the plane I figured, so I did everything I could to mitigate that risk.

We:
1) Boosted our immune systems for few weeks prior to travel
2) Brought along wipes for easy handsanitizing, had strict handwashing policies
3) Used tea tree and grapefruit seed extract to wipe surfaces of trays, etc in airport/airplane
4) Brought herbs and remedies for cases where we might get sick, like garlic, vitamin c in megadoses, grapefruit seed extract (taken internally it kills tons of organisms).

And I also contacted an herbalist who was helping us to boost our immune systems. She pointed out the fact that we would significantly weaken our immune systems if we vaxed before we traveled. The vax would lower our ability to fight off anything leaving us more susceptible to the disease than if we remained vax free. This point was the one that gave us certainty that what we were doing was the safest, well thought out, best we could do for our daughter.

Hope something here helps! Good luck.
I'd just like to say that YOU ROCK. What a lucky family to have such an intelligent and rational parent thinking these things through with common sense.

::: Just another WAHM using this forum to put off picking up toys and cleaning my house.
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#8 of 11 Old 07-11-2010, 03:12 PM
 
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Ditto to those tips. I traveled to Germany when DS was 8 months old and vaccines didn't even cross my mind. Vigorous hand-washing, nursing, and actually took Lysol wipes to wipe down our seats, in that case I found it prudent. Oh and the piggy flu hype just started when we traveled, go figure how some family members suggested we stay in Europe until it's over!
We boosted our immune system and I brought homeopathics, and I figured, I'm in Germany with plenty hospitals and doctors and great food and sanitation, I doubt the UK is much less modern....
While measels is sort of a concern to me, it is not so much anymore now that DS is nearly two years old - as an infant it's more concerning, but now I'm not freaking out about it anymore. Just FYI, in case you do want to get a measles only shot, it's available in the EU.
We're going again in Sep/Oct Denver to Frankfurt, both huge airports, but again, hygiene and good nutrition will be practiced.
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#9 of 11 Old 07-11-2010, 09:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nukuspot View Post
PS...I did read on the CDC website about the worldwide upsurge in Measles cases, and how there have been documented cases in the UK in the last few years...But it didn't seem like a outbreak or anything out of the ordinary, and to me not something that seems like giving her the MMR vaccine is warranted.
Measles was declared by the HPA in 2008 to once again be endemic in the UK. The most current lab-confirmed stats are here (note that the first data row of the table should be "Total 2009").

Whether 1144 such cases in 2009 versus 70 in 2001 is "out of the ordinary" is a separate question, I suppose, but those are the data so far this year. Only you can weigh the risks.
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#10 of 11 Old 07-12-2010, 09:28 PM
 
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"I'd just like to say that YOU ROCK. What a lucky family to have such an intelligent and rational parent thinking these things through with common sense."

Oooo, thanks so much. I did rock, I was so totally happy with myself for taking the time I did to sort it all out. I was just looking for the least possibility for regret and the most possibility for safety. You would have loved to be a fly on the wall at the TWO HOUR travel vax appointment at Dartmouth hospital. She was mildly amused by me. However, I walked out of there vax free and with a medical exemption letter for Yellow Fever!

Anywho...I wanted to explain a bit about why I said I was most worried about flu. One, I knew I would be exposed to it on the plane. At home, I don;t ever think about it or worry... but I knew that if I was sick in Rwanda (or dd was) that would be BAD news for the progress of our very complicated adoption but moreover, I knew the last place I wanted to be was in a medical facility where I would likely get more sick. I had to remember that I did not want to have to rely on their doctors or facilities for care, and that I likley would not have access to the same quality of care as we are accustomed to should I need it.

None of those issues would be applicable to the OP as I imagine as most places in Europe would in fact have good medical care should you need it?

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#11 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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I would agree with the comments that vaxing could actually weaken the immune system before travel. If Measles are your concern, here is what I've found out about Measles - sorry I only have Canadian data but in case any of this is helpful:

Measles (Red Measles)
• Measles is a respiratory infection caused by a virus, which typically involves fever, red eyes, runny nose, cough, spots on the mouth and rash. It is transmitted by airborne droplets, (sneezing or coughing) or direct close personal contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons.
• The most common complications of measles include diarrhea (8%), middle ear infection (7%-9%), and pneumonia (1%-6%). Encephalitis, (frequently resulting in brain damage), occurs in approximately 1 per 1000-2000 cases. (Note: many vaccines can also cause Encephalitis).
• Measles cases began declining in the late 1940's, and continued to decline from approximately 7,000 cases per year, (550 cases/year/100,000 pop) in the mid-40's to less than 1,700/year, (100/year/100,000 pop) by 1958. The Measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, 15 years after the decline began.
• Over the past five years, there has been an average of 10 measles cases reported in Canada per year, (of a population of over 33 million).
• Rates of Measles mortality rates: “In Canada, measles mortality is estimated at one per 3,000 cases for all age groups.” from the Fed Gov’t Health Agency of Canada website, Canadian National Report on Immunization. (Similar rates also found elsewhere).
• This means that statistically, your child has a zero percent change of dying from Measles.
• There was a rise in cases in 2007, with 94 measles cases reported by the end of September 2007.
• Mortality can be as high as %5 to 10% in the very young or very malnourished in underdeveloped countries. In Canada, death is estimated to occur in one in 3,000 cases, (0.0003% of cases).
• The Public Health Agency of Canada's website shows a steady decline of measles that began long before the introduction of the vaccine, (oddly, measles rates have been reported and tracked every year from 1924 to present, except for the prior between 1959 and 1968; the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963).
• If exposed to measles, children/adults can be protected from infection with an injection of antibodies called gamma globulin, if given within 6 days of exposure. These antibodies prevent measles or make symptoms less severe. (Info on the Measles gamma globulin – taken from the Fed Gov’t Health Agency of Canada website, Passive Immunization section, came across this elsewhere also as a suggestion for travelers on a few sites).
• Stats on Measles complications (rates of diarrhea, pneumonia, etc.): From the CDC website, CDC Health Information for International Travel 2008* under “Measles”. (Similar stats also seen elsewhere).

If you believe the vaccines will work, (another theory up for debate in my opinion), another option is for the parent(s) immunized before travel. An adult body will be able to handle the toxins in the vaccines more easily and your child will get protection from the parent contracting and transmitting the diseases. Also, adults can be immunized for specific diseases rather than combined vaxes (at least in Canada, a child has to be around 7 or 8 before you can choose individual vaccines).

Personally unless I was travelling to a 3rd world country, I would not worry about the diseases we vax against, since you will have access to sanitary conditions and adequate medical care if needed.
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