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Do I Need A Vaccination For Jamaica?

Answered by Isreal, Associate Writer

The simple answer is YES, you will need to vaccinate to enter Jamaica.

Some vaccines are done as routine though, while others are listed as very important.

First let’s have the routine list.

Routine Vaccinations



  • Measles-mumps - rubella (MMR): This is a three (3) in one (1) combination vaccination. Measles is an infection that causes fever, rash, cough, running nose and red watery eyes.

    Complications from the illness can cause ear infection, diarrhea, pneumonia, brain damage and death. Mumps is an infection of the nodes.

    It causes fever, headache, muscle ache, fatigue, loss of appetite and swollen salivary glands.

    Serious complications can lead to the swelling of testicles in males and ovaries in females, deafness, inflammation of the brain or tissues covering the brain or spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis) and death.

    The side effects from the vaccine from the mumps component causes sore arm from the vaccine, fever, rash and joint pains in teenage and adult women who may throughout their lifespan so far have not developed immunity to the rubella component of the vaccine.

    Rubella is also called the German measles. It causes fever, rash, sore throat, headache and red itchy eyes.

    In the case of pregnant women it can cause serious birth defects of the new baby or miscarriage.


    • There are persons advised not to take the vaccine despite their travel itinerary. This category includes:
       Pregnant women
       Persons who have recently done a blood transfusion or bleed easily
       Persons taken any other vaccine in the past four (4) weeks

    • Persons on medications that affect their immune system such as steroids
       Persons infected with tuberculosis
       Persons infected with HIV/AIDS
       Persons who have cancer
       Persons allergic to neomycin or another component of the MMR vaccine
       Persons who had a serious reaction to dose one (1) or two (2) of the vaccine previously.
       Before travelling internationally children 6-11 months should have received at least one (1) dose and those over a year the second dose at least 28 days prior to travel.


  • Varicella for the varicella-zoster virus (VZU)/chicken pox. It causes 250-500 itchy rashes within 1-2 days of infection.

    Other symptoms include: fatigue, loss of appetite, headache and fever. Complications of the virus include: bleeding problems, pneumonia, infection of the brain (encephalitis/cerebellar ataxia), blood stream infection (sepsis), dehydration and death.

    Some persons even after one (1) dose of the vaccine still succumb to mild infection of chicken pox.

    It is reported by CDC (2018) that 90% ofpersons become chicken pox immune after two (2) doses of the vaccine.
    Persons not advised to get the chicken pox vaccine include:

     Pregnant women
     Persons with weakened immune system
     Persons with chronic skin disorders
     Persons with lung disorders
     Persons with HIV/AIDS
     Persons with cancer
     Persons who have had an organ transplant

  • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis is another three (3) in one combination vaccine which should be given every ten (10) years. Diphtheria is responsible for breathing problems, paralysis and heart failure.

    Tetanus results in ‘locked jaw’ or painful tightening of the muscles especially in the mouth. Pertussis is also called whooping cough.

    Complications of pertussis include: pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death. Reactions to the vaccine include: high fever (105 degrees Fahrenheit), non-stop crying in babies, seizures, poor appetite and vomiting within 1-3 days of receiving the vaccine.

  • Polio - there has been no outbreak since the 1980’s in Jamaica
  • Flu - Types A and B are more common of the three types. Persons who are high risk for health are encouraged to get this vaccine before travel. These include those over 65 years, pregnant women, individuals with chronic illnesses and those with immunosuppressant diseases.


Compulsory Vaccination Required To Enter Jamaica



  • Anthrax - transmitted through contaminated wild and domesticated animals.

    There are three relevant types of anthrax infections (cutaneous, inhalation and gastrointestinal).

    The cutaneous comes with symptoms of blisters and painless ulcers that turn black in the centre once the blisters are gone.

    It affects mostly the neck, face, arms and hands. The inhalation anthrax has symptoms of fever/chills, chest discomfort, confusion/dizziness, coughing, nausea, headache, body aches and extreme fatigue.

    The gastrointestinal anthrax is similar to the inhalation with the addition of the following symptoms: sore throat, diarrhoea with bloody stool, red face and red eyes; and stomach pain.

    Anthrax is not contagious and the vaccine (Biothrax) is not available to the public but a doctor can prescribe prior to travel.

     Persons who should not take the anthrax vaccine:
     Pregnant women
     Persons with chronic illnesses

  • Hepatitis A - is an infection of the liver transmitted through contaminated food or water. Symptoms include: loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, fever and jaundice. The vaccine is best taken four (4) weeks before travel.

  • Hepatitis B - is passed on through sexual contact, through birth (mother-to-child) contaminated needles, piercing and blood products.

    Symptoms include: dark urine, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea and jaundice that can last up to seven (7) days. The vaccine is given over a six (6) month period with four (4) shots.

  • Typhoid is caused by bacteria that result from poor sanitation and contaminated food or water.

    Symptoms include: sudden fever, severe headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sore throat, constipation, dry cough and rose spots on the body.

    This illness can cause death even while undergoing treatment. This vaccine is best taken two (2) weeks before travel.

  • Rabies - is transmitted mostly through bats so nature lovers are encouraged to vaccinate. The risk is the bite or saliva of an infected animal which could also include cats and dogs.

    The symptoms include: fever, headache, nausea, agitation, anxiety, confusion, hyperactivity, excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, hydrophobia (fear of water), hallucinations, insomnia and partial paralysis.

    Vaccines can be given either pre-exposure or post exposure (after infection). Notably, the post-exposure depends on the type of contact with the virus. A visit to a medical professional will handle this matter. The pre-exposure vaccine is given in three (3) shots within a maximum of 28 days.

  • Yellow Fever - Although yellow fever is not prevalent in Jamaica, the government requests that if travelling from a country where there are occurrences then visitors should vaccinate.

    Please see the link for countries as outlined by the website provided at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever#5291.



Where to Get Vaccinated?



Persons travelling from the USA (https://www.passporthealthusa.com/locations/ telephone 1-888-499-7277)

Persons travelling fromCanada (https://www.passporthealthglobal.com/ca/locations/telephone telephone 1-888-499-7277) or

Persons travelling fromMexico (https://www.passporthealthglobal.com/mx/ubicaciones/ telephone (55) 4170-3538) can schedule a health appointment for vaccinations.

Other health risks which have no vaccinations just need insect repellents:

• Dengue Fever: mosquito borne with symptoms of fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pains.

• Zika is transmitted through mosquitos, sexual contact and during pregnancy from mother to child. Symptoms are similar to dengue with fever and joint pains. However it can be accompanied with rash and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

It is more dangerous than dengue in that it causes microcephaly in infected unborn babies (condition where the head is smaller in circumference than normal). To avoid get an insect repellent with at least 50% deet.

Useful Links:
Travel Health Clinic (Ireland)
This website provides details on the vaccines for various countries including Jamaica
Email:immunisation@hse.ie
Tele: + (353) 01-867-6108
http://www.travelhealth.ie/countries/jamaica.php

Discussion Forum:
To learn and contribute after travel to Jamaica, please see a link to a TA forum discussing vaccines when travelling to Jamaica by former visitors:
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g147309-i69-k8173499-Vaccines_for_Jamaica-Jamaica.html


References:

  • Boulanger, A. and Cafasson, J. 2018. The Truth About the MMR Vaccine. Healthline taken from https://www.healthline.com/health/mmr-vaccine#autism
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2018. Travelers’ Health taken from wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/Jamaica
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2018.
  • Chickenpox (Varicella) taken from https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/index.html
  • Davis, Angella.2017. Polio the Forgotten Disease from the Jamaican Sunday Observer dated November 5, 2017 taken from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/your-health-your-wealth/polio-the-forgotten-disease_116098?profile=1213
  • Mayo Clinic. 2018. Zika Virus Disease taken from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/zika-virus/symptoms-causes/syc-20353639
  • MedicineNet. 2018. Microcephaly taken from https://www.medicinenet.com/microcephaly/article.htm
  • Saskatoon Health Region. 2018. Hepatitis A and Typhoid Vaccine (Vivaxim) taken from https://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/locations_services/Services/International-Travel/Documents/Purchase%20Vaccines/DC-273%20%20Hepatitis%20A%20and%20Typhoid%20Vaccine_ViVaxim_03-11.pdf
  • World Health Organization. 2018. Rabies taken from http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/rabies/en/

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