Do I need any vaccines before going to the USA?
Q: I am going to the United States for higher studies and I have been asked by the university to get vaccinated. In particular I have been asked to get: MMR, Tetanus plus Diphtheria and Meningitis vaccines. I have already taken MMR vaccine 15 days back. When should I take the DPT vaccine now? Also, after how much time should I take the Meningitis vaccine after taking DPT? Are there any Meningitis and DPT vaccines available especially for adults? Is there a risk involved in taking these vaccines?
A:It would have been advisable for you to take all the vaccines simultaneously. Generally, an interval of about 4 weeks after a live viral vaccine (for example MMR) is desirable before inoculating with another vaccine. At your age, in India, if you have had your entire course of DPT vaccines and boosters in childhood, another DPT booster at this age is NOT required. However, for this you should be having Tetanus (TT) immunization at 5 yearly intervals since childhood. Perhaps you could enclose a certificate from your erstwhile paediatrician stating the dates of your pediatric DPT immunizations and boosters, and this may suffice for the USA authorities. You can give both meningitis (presumably meningococcal is required) and DPT vaccines simultaneously but at separate sites, preferably 4 weeks after the MMR vaccine. There are several commercial brands of both vaccines available for use (the product is the same for children and adults) and all are of similar quality. The vaccines are generally safe, and the side effects are extremely rare.