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Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2014 April; 10(4): 1111–1113.
Published online 2013 November 27. doi:  10.4161/hv.27234
PMCID: PMC4896562

Vaccination for safe travel to India

Abstract

Worldwide more than 900 million international journeys are undertaken every year. India is one of the favorite tourist destinations around the world. International travel exposes travelers to a range of health risks. Traveling to India possess a threat to travelers with waterborne diseases like bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever; vector borne diseases like dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria; animal contact disease like rabies. Furthermore diseases spreading through behavior aspects cannot be ruled out hence posing a risk for hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C as well. Hence, before travel the travelers are advised about the risk of disease in the country or countries they plan to visit and the steps to be taken to prevent illness. Vaccination offers the possibility of avoiding a number of infectious diseases that may be countered abroad. There is no single vaccination schedule that fits all travelers. Each schedule must be individualized according to the traveler’s previous immunizations, countries to be visited, type and duration of travel, and the amount of time available before departure.

Keywords: travel, travelers, vaccination, vaccine, India

Introduction

Tourism has been recognized as a potent engine for socio-economic development of any nation. Because of its inter-sectorial linkages it possesses the potential to stimulate other economic factors as well. In this rapidly shrinking world, International travel has risen from 25 million international tourists in 1950 to 1.035 million international tourists in 2012 and an estimated increase to 1.8 billion tourists in 2030.1

Worldwide more than 900 million international journeys are undertaken every year. India is one of the favorite tourist destinations around the world. In comparison to the previous year, there has been substantial growth in foreign tourist arrivals which rose from 6.31 million to 6.65 million accounting to 5.4% and Foreign Exchange Earnings which rose from US $77 591 to US $94 487 crore accounting to 21.8% during the year 2012.2

International travel exposes travelers to a range of health risks. Many of these risks can be minimized by precautions taken before, during and after travel. Hence, before travel the travelers are advised about the risk of disease in the country or countries they plan to visit and the steps to be taken to prevent illness.3

Vaccination offers the possibility of avoiding a number of infectious diseases that may be countered abroad. However, satisfactory vaccines have not yet been developed against several of the most life-threatening infections, including tuberculosis, malaria, dengue and HIV/AIDS. There is no single vaccination schedule that fits all travelers. Each schedule must be individualized according to the traveler’s previous immunizations, countries to be visited, type and duration of travel, and the amount of time available before departure.3

Following vaccination, the immune response of the vaccinated individual varies with the type of vaccine, the number of doses required, and whether the individual has been vaccinated previously against the same disease. For this reason, travelers are advised to consult a travel medicine practitioner or physician 4–8 wk before departure in order to allow sufficient time for optimal immunization schedules to be completed.3

Traveling to India possess a threat to travelers with waterborne diseases like bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever; vector borne diseases like dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria; animal contact disease like rabies.4 Further more diseases spreading through behavior aspects cannot be ruled out hence posing a risk for hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C as well.

Vaccine Recommendations for Travelers

Numerous international, national, and professional organizations publish guidelines and recommendations that assist travel health providers in giving the best possible advice to prospective travelers. Some of the reasons why guidelines differ include availability of products in different countries, a different cultural perception of risk, lack of evidence (or differing interpretations of the same evidence), and sometimes just honest differences in opinion among experts.5

Vaccines Recommended for India Travel6

The vaccination recommended for India travel includes yellow fever, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus-diphtheria, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, pneumococcal, typhoid fever, and some other selective vaccines like cholera, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies (Table 1).

Table thumbnail
Table 1. The vaccination recommended for India travel

Conclusion

Travel is a good opportunity for the health care provider to review the immunization status of infants, children, adolescents and adults. Unimmunized or incompletely immunized travelers should be offered vaccination as recommended. A health care provider or travel medicine clinic should be consulted 2 to 3 mo in advance of travel in order to allow sufficient time for optimal immunization schedules to be completed. Vaccination offers the possibility of avoiding a number of infectious diseases that may be countered abroad. But it is important to remember that all health problems faced by international travelers are not preventable by vaccines. It is also important to remember that immunization is not a substitute for safe practices, careful selection and handling of food and water.

Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest

No potential conflicts of interest were disclosed.

References

1. United Nations World Tourism Organization. UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2013 Edition:UNWTO;2013 Available from http://mkt.unwto.org/en/publication/unwto-tourism-highlights-2013-edition [Accessed on 20 October2013]
2. Report A. (English) for the Year 2012-13. New Delhi: Ministry of tourism;2013 Available from: http://tourism.gov.in/Pages/AnualReportArc.aspx[Accessed on 1 october2013]
3. World Health Organization. International travel and health 2012. Geneva:WHO;2013 Available from http://www.who.int/ith/en/[Accessed on 30 October 2013]
4. Major Infectious Disease.In:The World Factbook. CIA library: Central Intelligence Agency;2013 Available from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2193.html[Accessed on 17 October 2013]
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2014. New York: Oxford University Press; 2014. Available from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-1-introduction/perspectives-why-guidelines-differ[Accessed on 19 October 2013]
6. Chart WI. IAMAT elibrary: International Association for Medical assistance to Travellers;2013 July Available from: www.iamat.org/pdf/world_immunization_chart.pdf [Accessed on 2 November 2013]

Articles from Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics are provided here courtesy of Taylor & Francis