Typhoid vaccine for travel

Typhoid is caused by the growth of Salmonella bacteria in the intestines and in the blood. People do die from typhoid, and it is very easy to pass it on to others people, particularly those you are close to. There is a typhoid vaccine for travel so you can protect yourself from this unpleasant disease.

What are the symptoms of typhoid?

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Some people experience confusion and exhaustion. If you think you have typhoid, see a doctor and tell them about your travel history.

How do you catch typhoid?

Typhoid is spread via the faecal-oral route. The Salmonella bacteria that cause typhoid come into the body when people ingest tiny fragments of an infected person’s poo or their urine.

Am I at risk from typhoid?

Travellers visiting a place where the sanitation and water supply infrastructure is unreliable – such as developing nations, or regions affected by natural disasters or conflict – will be at increased risk of typhoid fever. Your travel health advisor will have the latest information about typhoid risk at most destinations and they can tell you about the typhoid vaccine for travel.

If you are going elsewhere in the world, the typhoid shot is only recommended for:

  • adventure travellers who are visiting rural areas or places where sanitation is less than good
  • anyone who will be staying in a domestic setting; for example, if you are doing a homestay or visiting friends and relatives
  • children who cannot follow food and water precautions
  • immunocompromised travellers
  • travellers who do not produce enough stomach acid
  • long-stay travellers

Is there a typhoid vaccine for travel?

There are two kinds of vaccine for typhoid. One is a shot – a single injection. There is an oral vaccine in the form of three pills to take on alternate days. You can also get shots that combine the typhoid vaccine with the vaccine against hepatitis A. These typhoid vaccines are suitable for travellers. The advisers at our city centre travel clinics can help you work out which of these is most suitable for you.

Do I need a booster for typhoid?

The typhoid vaccine for travel will give you three years of protection, so you will need a booster every three years.

Is the typhoid vaccine for travellers completely effective?

Vaccination provides good protection – but you still need to support this by taking precautions to avoid disease-causing organisms. Basic food and water precautions will also help you to avoid exposure to gastro-intestinal illnesses that are not vaccine preventable.

People acquire gastro-intestinal diseases through contaminated food or water. You should:

  • choose water that has been treated to make it safe, or use water from factory-sealed bottles
  • avoid ice in drinks: freezing does not kill bacteria, and you cannot guarantee the water in ice
  • opt for hot freshly cooked food rather than raw and undercooked food
  • peel fruit yourself
  • avoid herbs and salads because it is difficult to get them properly clean
  • ensure cutlery, plates and cups are clean before you use them

Take extra care with personal hygiene. Wash your hands before you prepare food or eat and always wash them after using the lavatory. And you may wish to carry an alcohol hand sanitiser, or alcohol wipes.

Read more about food hygiene and safe water in our travel articles or get some tips from NHS Fit for Travel.