health care,
education and
social services

health care,
education  and
social services

Medical preparations before moving to the US

By Christian Cornejo, MD, FAAP

Bringing family members from your country of origin to the US is exciting. Here are a few tips to make the health transition to this country easier.

It can take a lot of time to get all these documents and information, but it's worth it. It's good to start well before the date of departure.

Finally, once your family member is here in the US, enroll them at one of the community clinics in the area. Don't be afraid if they don't have papers or insurance. Remember that it is cheaper for them to see a doctor at a community clinic than to go to the Emergency Room.

  1. Plan ahead, because in the United States you need a prescription from a doctor for many of the medicines you can get easily in your home country.
  2. For children, make sure that you bring their vaccination record. A vaccination record is mandatory for enrollment in school. The school will use the record to see which vaccinations have been given already and which ones your child still needs. If you don't have a vaccination record, your child will have to get ALL the vaccinations again!
  3. If your child needs some vaccinations, get them done in your country of origin, because it may take you a long time to find a primary care doctor in the US.
  4. Ask your child's doctor for medical records to bring to the US if your child has any kind of illness, like asthma or allergies or anything else. Also ask the doctor what medicine your child should take.
  5. Adult family members should also bring their medical records, any recent test results. This may help you to avoid having to do the tests again, which might be expensive.
  6. They should also bring enough supply of any medications for chronic illnesses like diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure to use while they are trying to find a doctor in the US for follow-up treatment. It's a good idea to bring the medicines in their original bottles/boxes, so that the doctor can see the exact names of the medication and what the chemical components are. Airport officials can also be very strict, so make sure that you bring the prescription for any medication you want to carry onto the airplane as your cabin baggage (for example, insulin which you need to use during the flight); if you don't have the prescription, the officials might not let you carry it on board.
  7. Before leaving, adults should also ask their doctor what kind of checks and treatment they should receive when they arrive in the US.

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