Typhoid Fever Protection

flattiresandslowboats.comIn the past you would go to the doctor, tell him where you were heading, roll your sleeve up, feel the prick of cold steel penetrate your upper arm, grin, bear it, and be on your way. A two-year “get out of typhoid free” pass secured in your psyche.

Well, they say no vaccination is 100% full proof but it’s the best you can do.

The next day your arm would be red and kind of aching with soreness. You felt as if someone had crept in and pummeled you during the night. For the rest of the day you would protect that arm, fending off anything that came even remotely close. It was a good soreness though, and you knew it would be over in 24 hours from which time, typhoid beware!

My recent trip to the UCSF Travel Clinic bore little resemblance to prior travel clinic visits. My sleeve remained unrolled; no needles, no surge of disease flowing through my veins; all I got was a prescription and an instruction booklet on how to pop an eight-day regimen of pills.

Typhoid vaccination comes in four capsules. To be taken every other day on an empty stomach. Once through, you have five years of protection.

On the evening of day one I was feeling fine even though tired; so went to bed. The morning of day two crashed upon me. I awoke with a sneeze, a cough, and a pounding headache. The kind of headache usually reserved for the after-effects of drinking bad spirits in a hot, humid Mediterranean island where water is unhelpful and shelter seems impossible to come by; Corfu or Ios (pronounced ee-os) spring to mind for some reason. May have something to do with a night two filled with Ouzo back in my 20’s but no need to go there right now.

By evening I literally thought my head was going to explode. I could see it happening in my mind. That night the sweats came rolling in and got soaked up by my Boulder, Colorado souvenir t-shirt as I tossed and turned; head throbbing.

The last time I can think of where my head wanted to separate from my body was when I had dengue fever. For a brief second I thought I might have re-caught the dengue bug at the travel clinic but that thought was fleeting.

I was messed up.

Day three meant another typhoid pill. Had my system gotten used to it yet or was this added infiltration of tropical bacteria just going to batter me about a little more?

I was a little concerned.

The old method of Typhoid fever immunization via injection used a dead bacteria. The pills were alive and well and looking to wreak havoc.

For the next two days I felt the internal fight going on as the typhoid vaccination was slowly getting beaten back. By day five the worst was over and the final pill made no distinguishable difference to my embattled but stronger immune system.

With all the other immunizations up to date and a tube of 34.34% deet at the ready, I can do no more.  I am, once again, all set to stay healthy.

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39 thoughts on “Typhoid Fever Protection

    1. I am pretty sure it doesn’t affect everyone like it did me but good to be wary of live vaccines especially when the dead ones will give you the same protection; just not for as long.

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  1. We tried the typhoid pills and thankfully didn’t have similar reactions but we had to get our kids to swallow them too and I didn’t realize how hard it was to get kids to take this type of medication. At least this vaccine lasts for a little while.

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  2. Ouch… that’s the kind of response that makes you contemplate the benefits of risking the disease… well aside from the delirium, internal haemorrhaging and fever for weeks. Hmm, the pill may not be that bad after all.

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  3. OMG – I thought the injections were terrible but the tablets seem worse. I would have given up!! Malaria tablets make me feel terrible and I usually stop taking them when I feel rough. I do get told off by family and my doctor but I am no sucker for punishment.

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  4. Yikes that doesn’t sound fun. I’ll concur with you and the others before me who said ‘UGH!’ I haven’t ever had to vaccinate for anything prior to travel and I’m sure that it’s worth the few days of discomfort but still not fun. I’d be opting for the injection too! It is amazing however, what we as humans have figured out when it comes to the science of diseases and vaccines.

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  5. Hi Tim; so sorry to hear about your battle with the new vaccination. isn’t that the way it always is? the newer isn’t always better. 🙂 the only good thing you said about it is the new method is good for five years. and if your travels take you anywhere near houston stop in. we do have mosquitoes but that is what air conditioning is for. and we have a crazy dog but she isn’t dangerous unless you have cheese and don’t plan to share with her. take care out there, Max

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  6. Wow, typhoid must be really bad if that’s how it felt to just get immunized. Given the choice, I think I’d opt for the needle, which is saying a lot!

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  7. I’ll be in the Philippines in August and was wondering if I should load up on Dengue or Typhoid vaccines. Flu vaccines have given me reactions in the past so I’ll wait to take them until I’m old and weak.

    Really not sure how I’d react to this as well. Too bad you had such a bad one. Take Care and Get Well Soon!

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    1. There is no vaccine for dengue Carl; just have to make sure you protect yourself from the bite. Deet 34.34% should do the trick. Also, remember that the dengue mosquito is out during the day, malaria mosquito out during the night. These critters don’t make it easy!

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  8. Hi Tim, As painful as it was to go through, at least you protected yourself. Too bad typhoid is not lifetime protection, like Twinrix for hepatitis. Your post reminded me of the Typhoid Mary story. Anyone would hate to be considered the cause of an outbreak. Kind Regards, Bill

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  9. People get a flu shot just when winter is about to start and it is like an accelerated flu process when you get the flu and it runs its course still. I have never taken one as I do not want to take the vaccine just to avoid flu by getting flu. I get you but for some of these medical issues you cannot refuse. I have also taken a yellow fever shot to cover my travel within Africa without which you cannot enter.

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  10. In this day and age it is funny where our medical knowledge is at. I am also concerned about how prevalent some diseases will be. We have the ability to eradicate diseases around the world, but ignorance and greed keeps them still around.

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  11. Wow Tim! What an ordeal! I’m glad you don’t have to do that again for five years. Surely you can never fully predict how you will react to things as an individual, but that seem very extreme. The only thing that happened to me with a vaccination is I got very swollen from a tetanus shot I had when I was 11. My mother was taking me clothes shopping, I tried on a dress and I couldn’t get it back over my arm to take it off. The dress went home on me. I’ve never had a problem with a tetanus shot since then so hopefully you will breeze through the vaccination in 5 years when it comes up again.

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    1. Very glad I don’t have to do it for another 5 years as well, but when I do it will be injection over pill. I think my reaction was very out of the ordinary but made me realize how very little I wanted to catch the full blown disease.

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  12. Hi Tim – that experience sounds just awful – I can’t blame you for going to the injections again. Now that its over though, you are protected for five years and that’s good. I hope you had someone with you to take care of you when you were going through the worst. By the way, did anyone tell you about these side effects or was it a total shock? Lenie

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  13. Had to have a shot against typhoid when I was working in Manila about 25 years ago. Woke up the day after I had it with a temperature of 41 degrees Celcius i.e. close to death. The doctor came to see me and I had to stay in bed for a couple of days. Seems we reacted differently to the old fashioned kind of shots.

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  14. Your Typhoid fever immunization experience sounds awful. Was that a typical reaction or do people react differently? On the plus side, you’re good for 5 years now.

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  15. What a nasty experience. My mom actually had typhoid fever when she was a child and it left her with little energy for the rest of her life. I really hate the current trend not vaccinating their children under the misguided belief that it is safer than doing it. Which really puts at risk children who are physically not qualified to get the inoculations and has cause a rise in diseases.

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  16. Who knew? I went to Thailand a few years ago, and had to get a multitude of vaccinations, but they were all in the needle form! This is great to know…(sounds terrible, by the way!) Michele

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  17. I remember when I had to get the Typhoid fever shot and it was very painful, but I would rather take it then have the fever. I don’t know if this will help but I take a Chinese herb called Power Mushrooms by Health Concerns which works on the immune system.

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  18. This post seemed quite timely for me. Maybe you know about our surge of immigrants to the USA from some Central American countries? Diseases are likely to rebound. And while I pray not THIS disease, we just don’t know do we?

    That’s just an awful side effect from a prescription rather than a shot in the arm! Geez. Which is really worst Tim?

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    1. Diseases have already started to rebound in the US but to date it is not because of immigration. The anti-vaccination push seems to have done some harm in this regard; whooping cough especially.

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  19. Knowing you, this didn’t put you off traveling…thought it might for a lesser person:) But I am happy to hear that the injections are still available and that in the future you can avail yourself of them once again. But if I read the post correctly…that will be in five years, yes? Lord knows what they have come up with by then! Glad you are feeling fit to travel again:)

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  20. Gosh – sounds unfun. I didn’t even feel my typhoid injection, had it with Hep A, didn’t really bruise (or maybe a little because I was so damn tense as the needle was waved at me) I expected it to be a lot worse.

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