Travel Vaccinations for Typhoid

Caused by a highly contagious bacterium known as Salmonella enterica serovar typhi, typhoid is a disease that is transmitted through infected water and food, and is therefore prevalent in countries where sanitation is an issue. Incidences of typhoid are rare in the UK, but the disease can be a major problem in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia. This is why typhoid vaccinations are recommended if you are going to be travelling to parts of the world with a history of typhoid outbreaks or poor food hygiene and general sanitation.

The typhoid vaccine

The typhoid jab is recommended for anyone travelling to a number of countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In the UK there are two licensed jabs, the VI and Ty21a vaccines, both of which are fairly effective in the first year after vaccination.

The VI vaccine is better at preventing the disease with an effectiveness rate of about 75%, while the Ty21a vaccine is about 50-60% effective in the year after administration. That being said, many people prefer the Ty21a vaccine because it is provided as a tablet as opposed to the injectable VI vaccine.

The Ty21a vaccine is actually not considered suitable for people with immune issues because it contains a live version of the bacteria that causes typhoid. While this bacterium is treated in such a way that it doesn’t pose any danger to a healthy person, someone suffering from an immunocompromising condition won’t be able to safely ingest the tablet.

The VI vaccine offers its immunising effects for about three years and is then topped up with booster injections if necessary. Conversely the Ty21a vaccine actually requires boosters after the first year. Unfortunately neither vaccine can safely offer 100% protection against typhoid fever, and as such there are steps you should take when travelling in typhoid bearing countries.

For example you should not drink water out of taps and only use bottles that are still sealed. You should be careful not to buy food from the majority of street vendors, and this includes raw vegetables, fruit, salads, ice creams, or juices. Generally speaking you should exercise caution when dealing with any food or drink that hasn’t been cooked thoroughly or treated and sealed.

Where to get the typhoid vaccine

You can receive the typhoid vaccines from your GP or from private vaccination providers. Typhoid fever is considered a highly contagious and very serious health risk, which is why the NHS provides the vaccinations free of charge in most cases. If you do prefer to go private, you can get the vaccines for about £25 each.

You should always arrange your vaccination in advance of your trip, and if you intend on staying at your destination for more than a year, make sure that you will have access to booster injections or pills, depending on which vaccine you opt for.

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