[Immunization for children travelling to the tropics: neglected vaccines].Med Trop (Mars). 2008 Jun; 68(3):231-5.MT
Each year hundreds of thousands of children leave France to travel to developing countries where they are exposed to infectious agents that can be prevented by vaccination. During the child's pre-travel check-up, practitioners should check that all mandatory immunizations are up-to-date and provide advice on relevant vaccines in function of the epidemiological situation at the chosen destination. However various factors hinder full compliance with this approach and some vaccines are underused. Underused vaccines are referred to as neglected vaccines. In the French vaccination schedule three vaccinations can be considered as neglected. The first is the hepatitis B vaccine that has a low coverage level in France due to strong reluctance to its use despite the fact that the virus is widespread in tropical areas. The second is pneumococcal vaccine that should be administered to all infants less than 2 years of age, especially for travel to areas where pneumonia and meningitis are frequent. The third is BCG vaccine that is now at greater risk of being neglected in child travellers because its use has been downgraded from a general requirement to a recommendation only for children at risk. A serious limitation on the use of travel vaccinations is cost that can lead families to neglect some infectious risk such as hepatitis A that is a major risk for child travellers as well as for their relatives during or after the trip and typhoid fever that is essentially an imported disease. Rabies vaccine is also underused due to its cost and to poor understanding of the risk by many practitioners and families. The purpose of this article is to underline the need to improve information and access to vaccines that are all too often neglected in child travellers.