Immunizations

As we discussed earlier, be sure to update your children's immunizations before departing, as well as finding out if there are any immunizations your kids will need specific to the host country. With your doctor's help, prepare a careful list of immunizations given, their doses and dates.

The best format for such a list is to use the “International Certificate of Vaccination”, as approved by the World Health Organization. The certificate is nothing fancy really, simply a standardized way of recording health information that a doctor overseas might find familiar and helpful in knowing what vaccinations your kids have already received.

Check your phone book"€they are distributed as document PHS-731 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also known as the Public Health Service. If you can't find them elsewhere, they are sold by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402 as item U.S. GPO 1984-442-829 or online here.

In the U.S., you can also call the National Vaccine Information Center at (800) 909-SHOT for additional information about immunizations.

The International Society of Travel Medicine Clinic Directory is an exhaustive listing of clinics all over the U.S. and in many other countries that can provide travel-related medical care, such as immunizations.

Look ahead for the time you will be living abroad, and see if any required immunizations will be coming due for your child. If she will need a certain immunization while overseas, be sure to find out in advance whether that shot is available in the host country. You may find that it is not, and that this will require you to schedule the needed immunization for a vacation trip through Hawaii, for example.

Again, make sure that the doctor abroad administering the shots annotates your child's records, to make it easier on you once you return to the U.S. to show schools and such that your kids' shots are up to date.

Speak with more than one doctor and do some additional research if you will need to take anti-malarial or other prophylactic medicines. There exists some controversy about how best to protect against malaria and other such diseases and you will want to inform yourself before deciding what might be the best course of action for your children.

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