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  • Monday, 16 March 2009 16:45
  • Last Updated Thursday, 08 October 2009 02:56

Immunisation against certain diseases may be essential or recommended when travelling to certain countries. Whether a patient is able to receive certain vaccines may influence their travel destination.

There are three main types of vaccine (17):

· Live attenuated vaccine

· Inactivated vaccine

· Detoxified toxin

Live attenuated vaccines are best avoided in patients who are immuno-compromised. Inactivated vaccines and detoxified toxins are safe to give but may be less effective in people with a weakened immunity.

Causes for a patient being immuno-compromised include:

· Type of Cancer

- Lymphoma

- Leukaemia

· Cancer treatment received

- Chemotherapy within previous six months

- Whole body irradiation within previous six months

- Stem cell or bone marrow transplant within previous six months

- Splenectomy

· Concurrent drugs

- Steroids within previous three months

Patients who have received high dose chemotherapy, stem cell or bone marrow transplantation may have lost the immunity from previous vaccinations and will require re-vaccination six months after the completion of their cancer treatment.

Patients who have undergone a splenectomy will have lower resistance to certain types of infection and should be vaccinated against pneumococcus haemophilus influenza type b, and meningococcus (16). It may be considered necessary for a splenectomy patient to travel with a ready supply of anti-biotics. Malaria can pose particular problems for patients who have undergone a splenectomy and travel to malarial areas is best avoided.

BT Buddies would like to thank Dr. Simon Noble, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Colin Perdue, Clinical Nurse Specialist for granting us permission to reproduce this article.


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