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Typhoid vaccine risk

Travellers warned they may not be fully protected against typhoid
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Keith David Barnard

9th October 2012 - Thousands of patients may have been injected with a below strength typhoid vaccine and will not be fully protected from the bacterial disease when they're abroad.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued an alert to healthcare professionals advising them that the manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur MSD has voluntarily recalled 16 batches of its typhoid vaccine, Typhim Vi.

The company says there is no safety risk for people given the vaccine from the recalled batches but it may be less effective in providing protection.

Typhoid fever

Typhoid is acquired through contaminated food or water in areas with poor sanitation. Around 350 people from the UK get typhoid each year, according to the NHS. Most of them contract it abroad, especially in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Vaccines give protection for one to three years.

Two vaccines are available for typhoid fever in the UK:

  • VI vaccine given by injection
  • Ty21a vaccine given as a tablet

Neither provides complete protection against typhoid fever.


This recall is due to concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine in some syringes distributed from 7th January 2011 following filling problems in the manufacturing process. Not all doses in these batches are affected but it is not possible to predict who may have received the affected doses. Therefore some patients who have been vaccinated with Typhim Vi may not be fully protected against the typhoid.

MHRA Head of Defective Medicines Report Centre, Ian Holloway said in a press statement: "There are no concerns over the safety of this vaccine but the recall has taken place because the vaccine may not be as effective as it should be.

"Anyone who has been to a typhoid region of the world and has a fever, abdominal pain and vomiting should contact a healthcare professional. They can also give them information and advice about minimising the risk of getting typhoid."

The MHRA says the recall will result in the VI vaccine being out of stock by the end of October. Stocks of the oral typhoid vaccine are also limited. The Department of Health is working with the manufacturers to help ensure supply problems are resolved as soon as possible.

In the meantime the MHRA is stressing the is stressing the importance of taking food and water hygiene precautions when visiting areas where typhoid is prevalent. These include:

  • Only drinking bottled water from a bottle that is properly sealed.
  • Not buying ice cream, ice cubes or fruit juice from street vendors.
  • Not eating raw vegetables, peeled fruit, shellfish or salads.
Reviewed on October 09, 2012

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