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.
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.
The symptoms of typhoid can vary but often include:
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:
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.
There are two primary types of typhoid vaccines:
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.
Getting vaccinated against typhoid is a crucial step in protecting your health, especially if you:
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the UK, you can obtain the typhoid vaccine from various healthcare providers and clinics, including: