Background: Expatriates (expats) from European countries regularly migrate to low-income countries where infectious diseases are more prevalent. Little evidence exists however on pediatric expatriates' compliance with preventive measures related to infectious diseases. This study aims to evaluate compliance in Belgian expat-children.
Methods: Data of 135 Belgian expat-children, visiting the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp, Belgium), were collected from clinical notes, laboratory results and from a web-based immunization-register. Information on routine vaccinations, yellow fever, hepatitis A, rabies, typhoid fever, meningococcal ACW135Y, Japanese encephalitis, BCG vaccine and anti-malaria chemoprophylaxis was collected.
Results: Overall, 87% of expat-children were up-to-date with their routine vaccinations. Although all children were eligible for hepatitis A, typhoid and rabies vaccination, only 8-21% were fully vaccinated. Only 29 and 61% of eligible children were vaccinated against meningococcal (ACW135Y) or yellow fever respectively. Finally, only 10% of children who lived in malaria-endemic-areas, reported chemoprophylaxis-use.
Conclusion: Although routine vaccination coverage in expat-children seems adequate, additional preventive measures are often needed. Whether this is due to lack of high-quality health care-access, fear of side-effects or insufficient knowledge about the risks/available preventive measures, remains elusive. Nevertheless, expats seem to constitute a separate risk-group for infectious diseases and destination-related health issues.