Vaccination: preventing health problems before going abroad

Vaccination: preventing health problems before going abroad

16 June 2020 Expat life Health

First, it is important to remember that vaccines can save lives, every second and everywhere in the world. Moving to a foreign country is often an opportunity to review your immunization record and any reminders you may need to make. The objective of this article is to answer the most frequently asked questions related to vaccination in an expatriation context.

Vaccines are essential when it comes to protecting yourself against diseases, whether mild or more serious ones. Even today, it is still the most effective way to immunize the body against a virus. Introducing antigens into the immune system will produce many antibodies that will lead to immunity against that virus. Not only does the vaccine protect you, but it also protects those around you (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) by stopping the spread of the disease. Historically, vaccines have been used to stop many pandemics. Before being licensed and distributed, vaccines go through long development cycles and tests. This is clearly the case with coronavirus today, where experts around the world are actively seeking a treatment to stop its spread.

Some vaccines are mandatory in many countries (e.g. childhood immunization). For example, if you are going abroad with your children, it is important to vaccinate them against measles because this virus is highly contagious and is still present in many parts of the world.

Which diseases can vaccines protect me against?

Many vaccines are recommended for expatriates. We therefore encourage you to seek advice from a general practitioner to find out which vaccines are suitable for your future new life:

  • Influenza
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Chickenpox
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus

Some vaccines are specifically recommended during teenage years:

  • HPV (human papillomavirus).
  • Meningococcal: meningococcal & meningococcal B conjugate vaccine

When should I get the vaccine?

As you probably already know, vaccines are not immediately effective. That’s why it’s important to plan and find out ahead of time which vaccines are recommended in the country you plan to visit.

Some vaccines need to be renewed every year. This is , for example, the case of flu, because it changes and mutates regularly. It is often a challenge to remember exactly when the last vaccination was taken. This is especially true for expatriates who move frequently. However, the time interval between each vaccine is essential to ensure its effectiveness. We suggest that you read this Vaccines Today article on how an expatriate parent has found the best way to manage their family’s vaccination schedule.

What are the vaccination requirements in each country?

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a list of countries’ and territories’ vaccination requirements. It is strongly recommended that you follow these recommendations because some countries may prohibit you from entering their territory if you cannot prove that you have received all the necessary vaccines. This mainly concerns territories where yellow fever and malaria are particularly active. Do not hesitate to consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country of origin, as well as a health professional, in order to know precisely which vaccination program you should follow (according to the country you are visiting).

Is the vaccine covered by my international health insurance?

Whether or not vaccines and vaccinations are covered depends directly on your insurance policy. If you are affiliated with the local public health insurance system, we recommend that you contact them quickly, as coverage may be very limited or non-existent. With private international health insurance, you are likely to be be covered. However, it is always useful to check directly with your insurer.

At Foyer Global Health, you can be covered for vaccination and immunization without any limits. Our international health insurances offer different levels of coverage, so it is up to you to decide which one suits your needs best. Simply base your choice on criteria such as the length of your stay, family members who may need vaccinations, etc. Our advice is to take out a comprehensive insurance policy for your children as they generally have more regular vaccination needs than adults.

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