Typhoid fever is an illness travelers should take seriously. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, 30 percent of cases of untreated typhoid fever result in death. Typhoid fever, which is caused by the Salmonella typhi germ, is rare in the United States but common in certain developing nations or those with poor sewage and water treatment. If you're traveling abroad, make sure you know when to get your typhoid vaccination--as well as how long it will protect you from this potentially deadly illness.
Oral Route v. Injection
The typhoid vaccine can be administered in one of two ways. Oral medication contains a live but weakened virus and may go by the trade name Vivotif. An injection that contains an inactivated (dead) virus. Both methods of typhoid vaccination offer different lengths of protection.
Typhoid Vaccine: Oral Route
The oral typhoid vaccine is administered four times, two days apart, with the last dose taken at least one week before travel. This vaccine lasts for up to five years, after which a booster dose is given for people who plan to continue their travels or who are otherwise considered at risk for getting typhoid fever.
Typhoid Vaccine: Injection
The typhoid injection is given only once, at least two weeks before travel. The injection lasts only two years compared with the five years of protection offered by the oral typhoid vaccine. After two years, a booster shot is needed for people who plan to continue traveling in countries where typhoid is common or who are otherwise at risk.
Who Gets It?
The oral typhoid vaccine is not recommended for children younger than the age of 6, whereas children 2 or older can receive the typhoid vaccine injection. In most cases, the typhoid vaccine is given to people traveling to areas of the world where typhoid fever is noted--Africa, Asia and Latin America--but it's also appropriate for those who work with Salmonella typhi or who are exposed to potential typhoid carriers. The vaccine can offer protection, but it's not always effective. Travelers are encouraged to watch what they eat and drink while abroad.
The typhoid vaccine can cause mild side effects, typically fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting. Those who get the typhoid injection may note redness and tenderness around the injection site. Very rarely will complications arise from receiving the typhoid vaccine. Those who note an extremely high fever or who experience an allergic reaction--wheezing, hives, difficulty breathing--should seek medical attention promptly.
More About Typhoid Fever
Are you an appropriate candidate for typhoid vaccination? Read more about typhoid fever, when vaccination is appropriate, and how you can further protect yourself against typhoid by consulting the CDC link below.