Kids and Vaccinations–Expat to Expat advice (part 1-the beginning)

Last night, after re-reading Theodora‘s excellent post on child vaccinations and travel, it occurred to me that I hadn’t given much thought to vaccinations in Singapore.

Elanor was 18 months when we moved to Singapore, and she got her 2 year old shots on a trip home.  I did get a flu shot for her here in Singapore, but when it comes to routine vaccinations, she needs them infrequently enough that I find it easier to get them done in the US.  In part this is because I still have yet to find a pedi I really like here, and more to the point, her file back home is computerized and easily printed out/acquired.  It just made sense to me to have them continue to do her shots so that I’d have a single, computerized shot record as needed (the annual flu vaccines are something we believe in, but not part of the record a school would actually care about).

Now baby #2 is fast approaching.  Technically I have about 18.5 weeks left (I’m something like 21 weeks and change).  However, my pre-e scare with Elanor at 38 weeks last time means an increased risk of developing it late in pregnancy this time.  The diabetes brings it’s own set of complications and additional monitoring that could signal a need to deliver on the earlier side of full term.  So in all likelihood, what I’m really looking at is somewhere between 15 and 17 weeks left.  Please do know that I am overly educated on this subject, know my risk factors, have two OB’s (one an expert in high risk diabetic pregnancies) consulting in, and there are NO hasty decisions being made.  I am a planner, and I am a pragmatist, so I’d rather be ready 15 weeks from now, and be ahead of schedule, than plan to have 18 weeks and be caught off guard by a complication.

Unlike with Ellie, who needs only the boosters (and doesn’t need a shot every year, either at this point), the new baby will need to start from ground zero.  While we do plan to travel back home with her, it won’t be on the kind of schedule that would allow for all of her shots to happen in the US…nor, at the moment, do I plan to deliver in the US.

Which made me realize I’d learned nothing about Singapore’s vaccination schedule, apart from asking if Singapore needed additional vaccinations (it doesn’t) before we moved here.

So last night I did my homework…and learned something (perhaps a blindingly obvious something) that is worth passing on.

Singapore is likely to have a different vaccination schedule than your home country.

I learned that there are 3 vaccinations that are standard for infants in the US that are not given in Singapore.

When moving here, I strongly advise you to NOT do what I’ve done and find a pediatrician you like quickly.

I’m currently interviewing neonatologist/pediatricians (preferably I need someone who does both) to find out if (a) those US vaccinations are available here (b) if it is possible to follow the US schedule and (c) what to do about Elanor never having received a tuberculosis vaccination, which is apparently standard here but not in the US.  Obviously, beyond that, I’m looking for the same intangibles that one always looks for–a bedside manner, a willingness to explain things, and experience with expats (particularly if you want to follow your home country’s schedule).

Be warned, immunization is compulsory in Singapore

To enter school in Singapore (at least Public School, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this applies to private schools as well) children need to provide proof of their vaccination record for BCG (tuberculosis), Hepatitis B, MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), Dtap (Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus).  At minimum, diptheria and measles vaccinations are required by law for all children, regardless of citizenship, what school they attend, etc.

Being a parent always means having a lot of balls in the air…keep in mind that being an expat parent will require additional juggling (and the occasional international phone call to your pedi back home–stay on good terms with them).

This entry was posted in Expat to Expat Advice, medical, Pregnant Expat, Singapore, With Kids. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Kids and Vaccinations–Expat to Expat advice (part 1-the beginning)

  1. Musns says:

    When we came back from Thailand, my little yellow immunization booklet(s) were completely full. Two of them, I have no idea what happened to those booklets, my mother swears she gave them to me, but I don’t remember seeing them after we left Thailand. I was even vaccinated for smallpox! I still have no idea if I was ever immunized for Hep B (wasn’t around or standard when I was a child – my age is showing); need to have that checked once I have health insurance again. Which is important because my best friend contracted it volunteering at a dental clinic 1+ years ago. She almost died. Who would have thought that those of us 40+ didn’t have this immunization and would even think to check these days.

    We received a newsletter from the school board and high school students are now required to get a booster Dtap because research shows that it DOES wear off (I’m sure that’s not the technical term, but you get the idea).

    • Crystal says:

      See, I lose those stupid little cards/booklets, which is why I’m lazy and prefer the nice computerized office that can print things out for me on an as needed basis, without my needing to take personal responsibility.

      I have to admit I got VERY used to the way that Partners Hospitals and doctors in Boston were all using the same central computer database. I see paper records here and I’m like “what is this, the dark ages?”

  2. R says:

    I’ve just begun reading your blog today — and I love it! Finally I know there is an American out there who resonates with many of the things I’ve experienced here in Singapore.

    Anyway, you’ve probably gotten lots of advice about pediatricians — who’s good, who’s not — but in the chance you do need a recommendation, let me know. We go to an ped clinic that handles lots of expats, and they are familiar with the various immun. schedules of other countries. And one of the pediatricians is both a pediatrician and neonatologist.

    Good luck with the next few weeks and with your delivery! 🙂 I hear delivering here is much cheaper than in the US.

    -Robin

    • Crystal says:

      I met Mark Loh today–is that who you’re using? They seemed totally fine with the US requirements and he’s also a neonatologist. If not, I’d love a name…I’ll email you.

  3. Pingback: Kids and Vaccinations (part 2-deciding on a schedule/extra vaccinations)–Expat to Expat Advice « Expat Bostonians

Comments are closed.