Pre-Adoption Vaccinations: For Parents

Author: Dr. Alla Gordina

Date: 7.15.2002


The following vaccinations are strongly recommended for any person traveling to developing or Eastern European countries, including the Republics of the Former Soviet Union. Family members who do not travel to the above-mentioned countries may still need some of these vaccinations because of the potential risk of the newly adopted children transmitting diseases to their families.

  1. Tetanus/Diphtheria booster (even in the present state of the vaccine shortages)
  2. Hepatitis B series (at least 2 doses before travel)*
  3. Hepatitis A series (at least 1 dose, at least 1 month before travel)**
  4. Polio vaccine
  5. Pneumococcal vaccine (for family members over 65)
  6. Influenza vaccine (October-December)


It is recommended to check the immune status for the following vaccine-preventable diseases - chicken pox, measles, mumps and rubella. In the case of negative or inconclusive results it is important to vaccinate susceptible individuals. Cholera and typhoid vaccination as well as malaria prophylaxis can be required for families traveling to the endemic areas.

Unfortunately, insurance companies usually do not cover most of these vaccinations for adults, with the partial exception for the Flu and adult pneumococcal vaccines. Fortunately, the blood work to determine the immunity status can be covered. Therefore it is wise to ask your internist or family practitioner to do these tests as a part of your pre-adoption physical.

*Second dose of Hepatitis B vaccine is given 1-2 months after the first one and the third - 4-6 months after the second. Two initial doses can provide only partial protection so it is very important to start immunizations as soon as possible, this way you will be able to finish them by the time of travel. If the primary series were completed several years ago, it is recommended to check protective titers. Booster doses can be required if level of protective antibodies is not adequate anymore.

**Hepatitis A vaccination is a two dose series given 6 to 12 months apart. According to the "Red Book" (American Academy of Pediatrics) up to 96% protection is usually achieved within 3-4 weeks after the initial dose. As of today, there is no time limit on the effectiveness of the first vaccine, as long as it is followed by the second in 6-12 months. Theoretically, proper vaccination with Hepatitis A vaccine should provide immunity for at least 20 years.