The cholera vaccine is different to many vaccines, as it is taken orally as a drink and is effective for up to two years. Most people do not experience any cholera vaccine side effects at all. If you do, they will most likely be very mild. It is recommended that you check whether you need the cholera vaccine if you are travelling to a risk area, as cholera can be a very serious illness.
As mentioned, the cholera vaccine is taken as a drink. It comes as granules in a sachet which dissolve in water, so it is really simple to take.
For travellers over six-years-old, two doses are required. You will have to take the first dose at the pharmacy under the supervision of a vaccinator, while the second dose can be taken at home one to six weeks after the first.
If it has been more than six weeks since your first dose of the cholera vaccine, you must commence your course again.
You should not take any other medicines, eat or drink anything for an hour before, and an hour after taking a dose of the cholera vaccine. If you do, it may not work properly.
You can have the vaccine anytime before traveling, but it is recommended that you complete your full course of the vaccine at least a week before you travel, as the most effective protection against cholera starts a week after being vaccinated.
How long the cholera vaccine lasts depends on your age. For adults and children above six-years-old, it lasts for two years.
Boosters for adults can be taken after two years, and require only one dose of the cholera vaccine, rather than the two you must take during your initial course.
The booster dose will last for an additional two years.
Less than 1 in 100 people experience cholera vaccine side effects. If you do experience side effects, they are usually not serious and do not last very long.
Cholera vaccine side effects include:
More serious cholera vaccine side effects are rare, but can include:
The cholera vaccine is not an injection, so it is completely painless.
The areas worst affected by cholera are in parts of Africa, South East Asia, South America and the Caribbean, so if you are visiting a destination in one of these areas, you may need the cholera vaccine.
You may also need the cholera vaccine if you:
are travelling where there is a cholera outbreak
have a history of ill health or disease
are working as an aid or health worker
are travelling where there is limited access to clean water
are travelling where there is limited access to medical care
are staying abroad more than a few weeks
However, not all travellers will need the cholera vaccine, and it may also cause problems for some people. This includes people who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, children under two years, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
If you are unsure whether the cholera vaccine is right for you, you can book a free telephone consultation with one of our prescribing nurses for a personal assessment.
For children, who are between two and under six-years-old, three doses of the cholera vaccine are needed in weekly intervals when having it for the first time.
As with the cholera vaccine for adults, children will need to take the first dose at the pharmacy under the supervision of a vaccinator, while the last two doses can be taken at home.
The cholera vaccine for children lasts six months. Therefore, a single dose should be given as a booster after six months, if continued protection is needed. The booster will last an additional six months.
If it has been longer than six months since your child got the cholera vaccine, a full course is required again, and two full doses must be given.
Children under two-years-old should not take the cholera vaccine. For more advice on how to protect children from cholera, speak to one of our prescribing nurses.
In addition to preventing cholera with the vaccine, you should also take other precautions while travelling.
Cholera is mostly passed on by contaminated food and water. So you must still take great care when choosing what to eat and drink, and practice good personal hygiene to avoid catching the disease.
Food and drink to avoid include untreated water, ice, shellfish, salads, unwashed fruit and vegetables.
If there is a risk of cholera at your destination, it is recommended that you check whether you need the vaccine, as the disease can be fatal. For the cost of the cholera vaccine, see below.
Note that the cost of the cholera vaccine for children may be lower than the below displayed price.
Anne Marie Major, Independent Nurse Prescriber
June 25, 2019