Before you go abroad, make certain that you get all of necessary immunizations. To assess your child’s immunization needs, check with your primary care physician or refer to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for guidelines. We recommend these additional vaccinations when traveling to Mexico. You can get them from your doctor, or at the State Department of Health. The Internet addresses for each US State Department of Health are listed here.
Hepatitis A is widespread throughout Mexico, so anyone–except for children under two years and pregnant women–should be vaccinated at least four weeks before departure. (You may be vaccinated up to two weeks before departure, but this yields only a 45 percent protection rate.) You should receive a second vaccination six months later for long-term protection. Children under two and pregnant women should receive the Hepatitis A immunoglobulin injection (this is not the vaccine), as should travelers who will be leaving for Mexico in less than two weeks.
Hepatitis B is transmitted from person-to-person through the exchange of bodily fluids such as, semen or blood. If there is any chance that you might have this type of exposure, then you we should suggest vaccination against Hepatitis B. As in the United States, all healthcare workers and anyone whose occupation puts them in contact with blood and blood products should be vaccinated. This disease can also be transmitted through the use of contaminated personal items that have the potential to break the skin, such as combs, razors, or manicuring tools. People receiving manicures and pedicures at resorts should ascertain that the instruments used are sterilized. To confer immunity against Hepatitis B, you should receive a series of three injectable vaccinations at day 1, day 30, and 6 months.
We do not routinely advise vaccination against rabies, unless you foresee heavy exposure to undomesticated animals. This would include traveling to rural or remote regions where access to medical care might be limited. The vaccination series for rabies includes four injections over a 28-day period. Contact your state or local health department for information on where you can receive a rabies vaccination.
Yellow Fever is very rare among travelers. In Mexico, it is not a required vaccination, but we recommend it for people traveling to tropical regions of Mexico. Do not give the vaccination to infants less than four months old (and it is best to defer vaccination until age 9 to 12 months.) pregnant women, or people with egg allergies or an immuno-suppressed condition such as HIV without the diagnosis of Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), organ transplant recipients, or cancer may receive the vaccination if an infectious disease or travel medicine specialist deems the risk of infection to be significant. Call your local doctor for her advice. A single vaccination lasts ten years.
Typhoid is not a required vaccination for those traveling to Mexico. However, we recommend the vaccine for people who will be traveling to smaller cities or rural destinations. The injectable vaccine is no longer available in the US market. The oral typhoid vaccine, Ty21a, produced by Vivotif Berna of the Swiss Serum and Vaccine Institute, consists of four doses given every 48 hours until completion. It is available for people six years of age and older. The vaccine has about a 50 to 80 percent efficacy rating, and you should get a booster every five years.
The vaccine has not been tested in pregnant women and we cannot recommend it for them. The oral vaccination consists of a live, attenuated virus and should not be given to immuno-compromised travelers, including those infected with HIV. The ViCPS vaccine is a safer choice for these people. Mefloquine and Proguanil, the anti-malarial drugs, and many antibiotics inhibit the Ty21a virus in test-tube studies. There is a theoretical concern that the vaccine may not be as effective if given while you are taking these other medications. Chloroquine, another antimalerial, does not affect the Ty21a virus. Serious reactions to the vaccine are rare, but some people complain of mild abdominal pain and/or generalized itching, nausea, or rash.
To find out where you can receive a typhoid vaccination and for information on vaccinations for children under the age of two, consult with your local or state health department. Additional guidelines for the oral, Ty21a vaccine: Keep the capsules refrigerated, but not frozen. Take each capsule with cool liquid on an empty stomach.