Typhoid fever vaccination 

Vaccination against typhoid fever is recommended if you are travelling to parts of the world where the condition is common.

High-risk areas

Typhoid is found throughout the world, but is more likely to occur in areas where there is poor sanitation and hygiene. High-risk areas include:

  • Africa
  • Central America
  • the Indian subcontinent
  • the Middle East
  • South America
  • South and Southeast Asia

In particular, vaccination is recommended for those who will be staying or working with local people, and those who will have frequent or prolonged exposure to conditions where sanitation and food hygiene are likely to be poor.

In the UK, most people who get typhoid fever have visited India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is therefore especially important that you are vaccinated if you are visiting these countries.

Vaccination against typhoid fever is usually free of charge from GP surgeries on the NHS. Alternatively, you can have it done at a private travel clinic from around £25.

Choosing a vaccine

Two main vaccines are available for typhoid fever in the UK:

  • Vi vaccine  given as a single injection
  • Ty21a vaccine  given as three capsules to take on alternate days

There are also combined typhoid and hepatitis A injections available for people aged 15 to 16 or older.

No vaccine offers 100% protection against typhoid fever, but the Vi vaccine is generally more effective than the Ty21a vaccine. However, some people prefer to have the Ty21a vaccine because it does not require an injection.

As the Ty21a vaccine contains a live sample of Salmonella typhi bacteria, it is not suitable for people who have a weakened immune system (the body's natural defence against infection and illness), such as people with HIV. It is also not usually recommended for children under six, whereas children can have the Vi vaccine from two years of age.

Ideally, the typhoid vaccine should be given at least one month before you travel, but, if necessary, it can be given closer to your travel date.

Booster vaccinations are recommended every three years if you continue to be at risk of infection.

Side effects

After having the typhoid fever vaccine, some people experience temporary soreness, redness, swelling or hardness at the injection site. About 1 in every 100 people experience a high temperature (fever) of 38ºC (100.4ºF). Less common side effects include:

Severe reactions are rare.

Advice for travellers

Whether you have been vaccinated against typhoid or not, it is important to take basic precautions when travelling in countries where typhoid fever is present. For example:

  • only drink water that has been recently boiled, or drink from a bottle that is properly sealed
  • avoid ice cream and don't have ice in your drinks
  • avoid uncooked fruits and vegetables unless you have washed them in safe water or peeled them yourself
  • avoid shellfish, seafood or salads

Find out more about food and water abroad.

Page last reviewed: 25/09/2013

Next review due: 25/09/2015