You’ve survived the gruelling procedure of researching universities and applying for admission. You’ve tolerated the painful wait for that ‘unkind’ envelope – the acceptance letter. As if these two phases weren’t traumatic enough, you must now go through the nail-biting visa application process. Take a chill pill. It is not intimidating as it seems. Consider this is as a good time to review your own immunization history.
Vaccination requirements for students
In the past few years, there has been an increase in the medical criterion for both students and work visas, after global epidemics such as swine flu and Ebola. So for those who plan to study abroad, it’s essential to be well-versed with the medical tests they may need to undergo after they’re done with the application process. Apart from WHO recommendations, every country has their own medical requirements for the overseas students. Most of the countries now demand students to have a complete full-body check-up, immunization certificates and overall medical certificate from a ‘panel’ hospital from their home country.
For example, there are many formalities to be completed for students travelling to the USA. The medical requirements for these students involve certificates of Immunizations for various diseases. Many students from India travelling to the USA don’t have certificates from their doctors or may not have taken these vaccines. The list of vaccines that are required by many US educational universities, institutions etc. for higher education are mentioned below. Please keep in mind that the individual list of vaccines & other medical requirements may vary between Universities, but the list below covers almost all the necessary vaccines.
- Hepatitis A : 2 doses at 6 months interval
- Hepatitis B : 3 doses
- Meningococcal : single dose
- Tdap( diphtheria, tetanus, pertusis) : single dose
- Influenza : single dose
- MMR( Measles, mumps , rubella) : atleast 2 doses
- Pneumococcal : 2 doses
- Varicella (Chicken Pox) : 2 doses
All visa applicants should have their immunization records available for the review at the time of the processing of the University applications in order to assist the panel physician and to avoid delays in the processing of a visa. Students should consult with their regular health care provider to obtain a copy of their immunization record if one is available.
Pre-travel Immunizations are important
The highest-risk group for travel-related illnesses tends to be students who think they are at a lower risk. Students who plan to travel abroad for higher studies will need additional immunization as different countries have different health risks and may require specific vaccines. There may also be immunizations that are recommended rather than required, and sometimes this is based on the areas in the country you will be visiting. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of immunization requirements and the most up-to-date health information regarding the locations to which they plan to travel. Ensure to inform your health professional of any plans to travel to destinations outside of your program itinerary, so that all necessary immunizations can be received prior to departure. Ideally, you should see your physician at least 4- 6 weeks before your international trip to get needed medicines or vaccines. Also remember that certain vaccinations have to be administered well before the departure to be fully effective (i.e., six months prior in the case of Hepatitis A and B).
What should last-minute travellers do?
Even if you are making a plan to leave in less than four weeks or last-minute trip, you should still check with your doctor to see if any vaccines or preventive medications might be recommended. There are options for getting the vaccines and medicines you need, albeit you’re a last-minute traveller. Your doctor will also counsel you on other ways to reduce your risk of diseases during travel. Many travel vaccines take time to become fully effective or require multiple shots. However, some immunizations can also be given on an “accelerated schedule,” meaning doses are given in a shorter period of time. Some multiple-dose vaccines can still give you partial protection after just one dose.
It’s imperative to have the health advice and right vaccinations before you travel. Your health and safety are essential, particularly if you want to enjoy your education period to the fullest. This is why you need to get the right advice – based on your medical history, season of travel and duration of stay.
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