How often do you need the typhoid vaccine?

The right vaccinations are an imperative for the traveller who intends to take their adventures well off the beaten path.

Typhoid fever, which is dominant in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia, can be deadly, and the Centers for Disease Control reports that when typhoid goes untreated, it can result in a 30 per cent mortality rate. Two ways exist to get the typhoid vaccination that can protect you from this potentially deadly illness, but each of these will protect you against typhoid for a different length of time.

Oral Typhoid Vaccine

If you're an avid and frequent traveller, the oral typhoid vaccine may be for you. The oral vaccine contains live but weakened Salmonella typhi germs that causes typhoid fever and is taken in four doses two days apart. The oral vaccine lasts for five years, after which time you'll require a booster dose. The oral typhoid vaccine can be given to children too, as long as they are six years of age or older.

Typhoid Injection

The typhoid vaccine injection contains inactivated (dead) Salmonella typhi and is administered only once. According to the CDC, typhoid vaccine injections will give you protection against typhoid fever for two years, after which a booster is required. The typhoid vaccination can be given to children as young as two years of age.

Does the Vaccine Offer Absolute Protection?

According to the CDC, the vaccine alone isn't guaranteed to protect you from getting typhoid fever. Just as important as getting vaccinated against typhoid is watching what you eat and drink closely while travelling overseas. The Salmonella typhi bacteria infects you whenever you eat or drink food and beverages that are contaminated with the bacteria or that are handled by a carrier of Salmonella typhi. Because the bacteria is commonly found in countries with poor water and sewage treatment facilities, it's particularly important to avoid risky foods and water.

Other Typhoid Precautions

The CDC recommends drinking bottled water only--carbonated is safer than uncarbonated--or bringing tap (untreated) water to a boil for at least one minute prior to drinking. When eating in a restaurant, ask for beverages such as sodas and bottled juices to be served without ice. Choose hot, cooked foods over those that are raw, and avoid fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled. Food and beverages sold by street vendors can pose a particular danger. According to the CDC, numerous travellers become ill from eating food purchased on the street.

Typhoid Vaccine Side-Effects

The typhoid vaccine typically does not cause any severe side-effects, but you may note headache, low fever and muscle pain, or inflammation and tenderness at the injection site (if you chose to get the typhoid vaccine shot). Symptoms that indicate you may be having an allergic reaction should be reported to a doctor immediately, such as hives, difficulty breathing, facial swelling or severe fatigue.