Certain chronic conditions result in immunosuppression. When suffering from immunosuppression, the immune system does not function properly. This means that infections can be more severe in nature. Sometimes the vaccination response is not good enough. We advise persons with immune disorders to take extra precautions when travelling to tropical or subtropical countries. These include the following conditions:
- Autoimmune diseases (such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus ...) treated with medication
- Organ or bone marrow transplant
- Cancer treatment less than 3 months ago
- Use of immunosuppressant medication (such as cortisone tablets or infusions, Ledertrexate®, Imuran®, anti-TNF medication such as Humira®…)
- Conditions affecting the spleen (including sickle cell disease)
- Congenital immune disorders
In some cases, certain live vaccines - such as the yellow fever vaccine - cannot be administered due to the risk of severe side effects.
Sometimes, the travel destination or itinerary will need to be changed. The type of immune disorder determines which extra measures are required.
These extra measures can consist of the administration of extra vaccinations, or taking along an emergency antibiotic treatment so any infections that occur while travelling can be treated quickly. In addition, we sometimes recommend blood tests to check whether the person has formed sufficient levels of antibodies following a vaccination.
It is a good idea to consult a specialist (an internist specialised in infectious diseases or travel medicine) to know which extra measures are required. For more information, please refer to the advice from the Belgian Superior Health Council regarding the vaccination of immunocompromised and chronically ill children and adults.