15 Jun 2012
Travel before baby vaccinations – do or don’t?
How did I feel, asked my mum, about a trip to Lanzarote with the baby in September or October? Well, it’s not a tricky question. I’m a big fan of the volcano-blasted landscapes of the Canary Island, it should be sunny though not too hot, and I have doting grandparents on tap to help with the mini traveller.
Although I’m playing it safe and deferring a definite ‘yes’ until after the birth, a family holiday in Europe feels like a great way to dip my toes back in the travel waters, even if there’s still everything from baby passports and travel insurance to newborn car seats to consider.
Then I remembered vaccinations. Not the exotic far-flung kind that you need when you’re visiting the ends of the earth, but the basic set of jabs that children get at two, three and four months. So should we travel outside the UK before the baby’s had the full set?
I can’t be the first person to have pondered this, but while searching the internet brings up reams of advice on vaccinations during pregnancy and taking older babies to more unusual destinations, there’s practically nothing on newborns flying to Europe.
The only useful tip was on Netdoctor, with parents asking if they could take their eight-week-old to Tenerife – practically the same as my query. Basically yes, said the experts, as long as your baby’s healthy. But it didn’t address immunisation specifically.
‘Babies have a certain amount of immunity at birth that is given to them via the placenta, then if a mother is able to breastfeed antibodies continue to be passed to the baby,’ she points out. ‘The first set of immunisations are from eight weeks of age as it is thought from this point the antibodies that have been passed from the mother may start to be less protective. It would be usually suggested that travel be kept at a minimum until this time.
‘Until all three sets of immunisations are made the baby is not fully protected, however each stage does increase the immune system so the level of risk decreases. The advice on whether you should/can travel between these would be with caution. Within Europe there is less risk than the more exotic locations.
‘Healthcare professionals could only ever advise the parent on the potential risks and the overall decision will be with the parent. Some travel insurance companies may want to know that a baby is “fully immunised” before giving an insurance policy.’
So there you go – the longer you wait, the better. But it’s down to me to weigh up the risks… Would you? Have you? Let me know.