It’s important to get the Typhoid Fever Vaccination if you’re travelling to regions of the world where typhoid is common.
Typhoid can be found all across the world, however it’s much ‘rarer’ in developed nations such as Britain. It tends to be regions with poor sanitation and hygiene. For most cases of Typhoid in the UK, it’s related to people visiting countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
If you’re travelling to the developing world, a typhoid vaccination is recommended. Did you know, a typhoid vaccine prevents around 30% to 70% of cases during the first two years?
Some medical research has even suggested that the vaccine may prevent infection for up to seven yeas, however this hasn’t conclusively been proven. Each year there’s around 12 million new cases worldwide of typhoid, with the disease most common in India.
What is Typhoid Fever?
Typhoid Fever can be simply known as ‘typhoid’, it’s a bacterial infection, which can cause many symptoms. These symptoms tend to ‘develop’ within around six to thirty days after the initial exposure. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Typical typhoid symptoms include constipation, a high fever, abdominal pain, headaches and weakness. It’s not uncommon for some people to also develop skin rashes with rose coloured spots.
Generally typhoid is the cause of poor sanitation and poor hygiene. It’s typically spread by drinking water or eating food, which has been contaminated with the faeces of an infected individual. It usually only affects humans and tends to be worse in developing countries.
If typhoid fever is left ‘untreated’ serious complications can occur. These can include intestinal haemorrhage due to bleeding, respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also cause severe dehydration and intestinal perforation.
Typically the general advice to avoid typhoid for people travelling abroad is to:
• Only drink bottled water from a sealed bottle
• Avoid drinking water from a tap
• Avoid ice cream
• Avoid uncooked vegetables and fruit, unless you’ve prepared them yourself (this include washing them in safe water and peeling them yourself)
• Avoid seafood, salads and shellfish
• Always wash your hands on a regular basis in clean water
Types of Typhoid Vaccines
In the United Kingdom, there are two different types of vaccines currently available. These are:
• Vi Vaccine – This is given as a single injection and conducted at a GP surgery or healthcare centre.
• Ty21a Vaccine – This is given as three capsules, which are taken on alternative days.
Generally the Vi vaccine is more effective than the Ty21a vaccine, however some people opt for the Ty21a vaccination, as it doesn’t require an injection.
So how does each vaccine work?
• Vi Vaccine – This works by ‘stimulating’ the body to create antibodies that prevent a person getting ill.
• Ty21a Vaccine – This contains a live sample of Salmonella typhi bacteria, this type of vaccination generally tends not to be suitable for people with HIV, receiving cancer treatment or have a weakened immune system. Equally it usually isn’t recommended for children under six.
It’s important to remember that not all vaccinations are 100% effective; if you have any concerns you should talk to your GP before you decide which vaccination is right for you.
Remember that after you’ve had your typhoid vaccine, you will need ‘boosters’ around every three years if you’re continually at risk of developing the infection.
How much is the Typhoid Fever Vaccine?
In most cases it’s free on the NHS, however this can vary depending on the NHS trust and the country you’re in.
For example it may be free in England, but not in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Equally it might be free in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not in England.
Please speak to your local doctor or NHS trust to confirm if the vaccination is free or not. If it’s not free, the cost is usually around £30.
You don’t only have to use an NHS or GP to get the vaccine. If you have a private medical plan, your health insurance may cover the cost of the vaccination as standard.
Side Effects of Typhoid Vaccination
As with all vaccination, sometimes there can be side effects. Generally the typhoid fever vaccine has temporary side effects such as swelling, redness and soreness at the injection site.
However around 1 in every 100 people may experience a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above.
More ‘severe’ side effects can include:
• Abdominal Pain
Areas with a High Risk of Typhoid
Typically ‘high-risk’ areas of Typhoid include:
• Indian Subcontinent
• Middle East
• South and South Asia
• South America
• Central America
For more information about which countries are affected, please contact the UK Foreign office, your travel agent or the countries embassy for more information and advice.
Please remember this page is a “general guide only”, it’s not official medical advice. It’s always recommended to get professional guidance and diagnosis from your GP.