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Typhoid Vaccine: The Complete Guide


typhoid fever

Typhoid fever, caused by the Salmonella typhi bacterium, is a potentially life-threatening disease that affects millions of people worldwide, particularly in regions with limited access to clean water and sanitation. Whether you’re planning a trip to a typhoid-prone area, working in healthcare, or simply seeking to understand the importance of typhoid vaccination, this guide is here to provide you with essential information.

What is Typhoid?

Typhoid fever is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. It’s a disease that primarily affects the gastrointestinal system and can lead to severe complications if left untreated. To fully appreciate the importance of typhoid vaccination, it’s essential to understand the basics of typhoid itself.

This contagious disease spreads through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. It’s prevalent in regions with poor sanitation and limited access to clean drinking water. Typhoid can also be transmitted by close contact with an infected person who sheds the bacteria in their faeces or urine.

Typhoid Symptoms 

The symptoms of typhoid can vary but often include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Rose-coloured spots on the chest and abdomen
  • Confusion or delirium

How is Typhoid Transmitted?

Typhoid bacteria are typically shed in the faeces or urine of an infected person. Contamination of food, water, or surfaces by these bodily fluids can lead to the spread of the disease. People can become infected by:

  1. Consuming food or drinks prepared by an infected person who did not practice proper hand hygiene.
  2. Drinking untreated or contaminated water, especially in regions with inadequate water treatment and sanitation facilities.
  3. Eating raw or undercooked shellfish or seafood from contaminated waters.

What is the Typhoid Vaccine?

The typhoid vaccine is a medical intervention designed to stimulate the immune system’s response to Salmonella typhi, the bacterium responsible for causing typhoid fever. It prompts the body to produce antibodies against the bacteria, equipping it to defend against infection. Essentially, the vaccine helps your immune system recognize and fight off the typhoid bacterium if you’re exposed to it.

Types of Typhoid Vaccines

There are two primary types of typhoid vaccines:

  • Injectable Typhoid Vaccine (Vi Polysaccharide): This vaccine contains purified pieces of the surface coating (polysaccharide) of the Salmonella typhi bacterium. It provides protection against typhoid fever for a limited duration and is suitable for individuals aged two years and older. The injectable vaccine is often recommended for travellers and may require a booster dose every two years for continued protection.
  • Oral Typhoid Vaccine (Ty21a or Vivotif): This vaccine consists of live, weakened Salmonella typhi bacteria that have been rendered non-pathogenic (harmless). It’s administered in the form of capsules taken orally. The oral typhoid vaccine is typically taken as a course of four capsules, one every other day. It provides longer-lasting immunity compared to the injectable vaccine and is suitable for individuals aged six years and older.

How Does a Typhoid Vaccine?

Typhoid vaccines work by introducing a harmless part of the Salmonella typhi bacterium to the body. This “antigen” triggers the immune system to produce antibodies against the bacterium. If you are later exposed to the actual Salmonella typhi bacterium through contaminated food or water, your immune system will recognise it and quickly mount a defence, preventing infection or reducing its severity.

The Importance of Getting Vaccinated

Getting vaccinated against typhoid is a crucial step in protecting your health, especially if you:

  • Plan to travel to regions where typhoid is prevalent, and sanitation may be poor.
  • Work in healthcare or laboratory settings where you may come into contact with the bacterium.
  • Live in or visit areas with inadequate sanitation and a higher risk of typhoid transmission.

By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself and contribute to community immunity, reducing the overall risk of typhoid transmission. Additionally, when more people are vaccinated, the spread of the disease is curtailed, which is particularly important for preventing outbreaks in crowded or at-risk populations.

Typhoid Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions 

How long does the typhoid vaccine last?

The duration of protection provided by the typhoid vaccine can vary depending on the type of vaccine administered:

Injectable Typhoid Vaccine (Vi Polysaccharide): This vaccine provides protection for about two years. After this period, a booster dose is recommended to maintain immunity.

Oral Typhoid Vaccine (Ty21a or Vivotif): The oral typhoid vaccine provides longer-lasting immunity, typically around five years. However, for continued protection, a booster dose is generally recommended every five years.

It’s essential to keep track of when you received your last typhoid vaccination and adhere to the recommended booster schedule to ensure ongoing protection.

Does the typhoid vaccine last forever?

No, typhoid vaccine immunity does not last indefinitely. Both the injectable and oral typhoid vaccines have a limited duration of effectiveness. The injectable vaccine typically lasts for about two years, while the oral vaccine offers protection for approximately five years. To maintain immunity, booster doses are required regularly, as healthcare professionals recommend.

How much is a typhoid vaccine in the UK?

The cost of a typhoid vaccine in the UK may vary depending on several factors, including the type of vaccine used, the healthcare provider or clinic you visit, and whether you are receiving it as part of a travel vaccination package. Typically, in the UK, the cost of the typhoid vaccine may range from £25 to £50 or more per dose.

Please keep in mind that vaccine prices can change over time, and different healthcare providers may have different pricing structures.

Where to get the typhoid vaccine in the UK?

In the UK, you can obtain the typhoid vaccine from various healthcare providers and clinics, including:

  • National Health Service (NHS): You may be able to receive the typhoid vaccine through the NHS if you meet specific criteria, such as travelling to a high-risk area or having a job that exposes you to typhoid risk. Consult your GP (General Practitioner) for information on whether you are eligible for an NHS-provided typhoid vaccine.
  • Travel Clinics: Many travel clinics and private healthcare providers in the UK offer typhoid vaccinations. These clinics specialise in travel health and can provide comprehensive advice on vaccinations and health precautions for international travel.
  • Pharmacies: Some pharmacies in the UK offer travel vaccination services, including the typhoid vaccine. You can inquire at your local pharmacy to see if they provide this service.
  • Private Healthcare Providers: You can also seek the typhoid vaccine from private healthcare providers, including occupational health clinics, private hospitals, and specialised vaccination clinics. These providers often offer flexibility in terms of appointment scheduling.
  • General Practitioners (GPs): Your regular GP may provide the typhoid vaccine or refer you to a nearby clinic that offers travel vaccinations.


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