Typhoid vaccine for children

Typhoid fever is a bacterial gastro-intestinal infection that is picked up from contaminated food and water. It may be a concern for parents travelling with their children. There are paediatric typhoid vaccines available to travellers, but are they right for your family?

Typhoid facts

The World Health Organization estimates that there are 11–20 million typhoid infections each year, which result in 128,000–161,000 deaths. Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics; but the bacteria that causes typhoid is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic, making the disease harder to treat.

Children living in typhoid-endemic regions are routinely vaccinated against typhoid with paediatric typhoid vaccine. But visitors to the country may not have the same protection.

What is typhoid?

Typhoid symptoms include headache and fever. Patients also experience abdominal and muscle pain. Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite are common, as are constipation (adults) and diarrhoea (children). Confusion and exhaustion are also symptoms of typhoid, and some people get a rash of little pink spots on their body.

Typhoid can have serious complications, and it can be fatal.

What should I do if I think my child has got typhoid fever?

If you suspect your child has caught typhoid, get medical advice, even if they’ve had the typhoid vaccine. Tell the doctor where you’ve been travelling. There is a test available to check for the bacteria that causes typhoid.

The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for typhoid fever, and it’s very important to finish the course. Keep taking antibiotics for typhoid even after you feel better. People with typhoid should not prepare or serve food, and they should take extra care with hand hygiene.

Which countries have a typhoid risk?

You can catch typhoid the world over – but exposure to this disease is more likely in nations with unsafe water supplies. These areas have higher rates of typhoid fever: developing countries in Africa, the Americas, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific.

How can I protect my child from typhoid fever?

Vaccination against typhoid should be your first line of defence. There are typhoid vaccines available that are suitable for adults, and also paediatric typhoid vaccines. However, it is important to remember that no vaccine is completely effective so you still need to take other precautions to avoid food- and water-borne illnesses.

Precautions that will help you to avoid typhoid fever and other GI conditions include:

  • drink only water that you know is safe
  • stick to hot, freshly cooked food
  • maintain good personal hygiene and wash your hands after using the lavatory and before handling or eating food.

Our travel health articles have further information about food safety and safer drinking water.

Should I vaccinate my child against typhoid?

If you are travelling with a child and you will be visiting a typhoid-endemic country, talk to a travel health nurse about paediatric typhoid vaccines. They can help you work out what vaccinations you and your family need to avoid illnesses such as typhoid and can also give you plenty of tips to ensure you stay healthy on your travels.