Having a Baby in China: What Vaccines to Get?

By Rob Fowler 2019-06-06 11:03:44

Take a trip through the Chinese immunization program to find out how to protect your kid against vaccine-preventable diseases in China and abroad.

Those expats who have or are planning to give birth in China may be wondering which vaccines their kids should have and whether the Chinese immunization program will be enough for trips and perhaps for moving back home eventually. The answer is 'yes' and 'no'.

China has been striving to expand its coverage in order to combat vaccine-preventable diseases. In 1992, the nation began the Expanded Program on Immunization program that involves a compulsory scheme of jabs for children aged from 0 to 6 years, shaking up each new baby's first day with a shot against tuberculosis. Oh yes, China still has tuberculosis.

 

A disclaimer may be useful here as China's immunization program is voluntary for expats but as you're still reading this article it is probably safe to say that you're not one of those anti-vaccine freaks. So bring in the jabs!

 

The major difference between the Chinese program and those of Australia, the UK, and the US is that the latter three are much wider. The outcome is that Chinese kids will lack protection against rotavirus, HPV, pneumococcal, as well as many strains of meningococcal disease if their parents don't particularly ask for that optional coverage -- and pay for it too.

 

The weird thing about vaccines in China is that China produces a lot of them for exports but similar abundance does not apply to the immunization plan. For example, the US and the UK have already adopted a vaccine against human papillomavirus on their national programs, while the product only became available in China last May.

 

This is why families in China may need to customize their own programs. And that means hunting for good deals. Chinese public hospitals are admittedly cheaper than their international counterparts in the Middle Kingdom so if your wife or husband is Chinese your kid will receive at least the basics to ward off diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella, as well as hepatitis B.

 

The even smarter decision is to go for the extras. Adding the optional protection against rotavirus, pneumococcal disease, chickenpox, hepatitis A and HPV will get you closer to what the national immunization plans in the UK and the US offer. You may find these at Chinese public hospitals or go for international clinics, particularly if you have a health insurance plan that covers the latter option.

 

International hospitals are quite pricey but they can ease the stress of making sure you ticked all the boxes in your child's personal vaccine plan. United Family Healthcare's baby wellness and immunization package costs nearly CNY19,000 (USD2,750) and a similar package is priced at CNY19,700 at Parkway Health.

 

A word of warning still: getting your kid vaccinated is a time-consuming business in China. Children in this country have to visit their doctors relatively often because the handy combinations, such as the British 'six-in-one' kit against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B and others, are so far not available in China. So prepare for a lot of visits.

 

The best way to go about the vaccination program is to compare the Chinese one with that of your home country and see where you need to patch up some potholes. The good thing, however, is that your child is likely to get their bases covered in China.

China's Immunization Schedule

 

Birth

Six Weeks

10 Weeks

14 Weeks

6 Months

9 Months

12 Months

15 Months

18 Months

2 Years

4-6 Years

10

Years

BCG (Tuberculosis)

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hepatitis B

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPV/IPV (Oral Polio Vaccine or Inactivated Polio Vaccine)

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

X

 

X

 

DTap/DTwp (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis)

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B)

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella)

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

TCV (Typhoid)

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

Pneumococcal disease

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Rotavirus

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varicella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

Hepatitis A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

 

HPV (Human papillomavirus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

About the Author:

Rob Fowler is the Director of IPMI at China Expat Health. He has lived in China for 9 years and has two children who were both born in China.

 

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