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Traveler’s Guide to the Cholera Vaccine

Traveling to a foreign country often means taking steps to protect yourself against diseases that your body is not accustomed to. Vaccines, medications, and safe food and water choices can help you stay healthy and happy throughout your trip.

Why was the cholera vaccine discontinued?

The cholera vaccine was discontinued in December 2020 by the manufacturer because of the lack of travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaxchora (the cholera vaccine) will soon be available again starting in May 2023.

When travel is reduced, vaccine manufacturers have inventory that expires if not used within a certain timeframe. This can be very costly and wasteful, and countries where cholera is a recommended vaccine are limited.

Who needs a cholera vaccine?

Consulting a travel health specialist to receive the most up-to-date information for your destination country is recommended. Generally, travelers to the Caribbean, Africa, or Southeast Asia should consider getting vaccinated against cholera. Haiti, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, and Cameroon make up the majority of cholera cases around the world.

Cholera can interfere with your travel plans, as people who become severely ill may not be allowed to fly. Hospitals and other health care facilities outside of the United States may expect cash payment for medical care as a non-resident of the country.

How long is the cholera vaccine good for?

The cholera vaccine provides considerable protection for up to 3-6 months after vaccination. The CDC does not have data on how long protection lasts beyond that period of time. There are other cholera vaccines available abroad that are multiple doses and last for three years, but they are not available in the United States.

The cholera vaccine is an oral vaccine that is mixed in a cup of water. Your travel health specialist will give you instructions to follow after getting vaccinated to allow the vaccine to perform its function.

Who is most vulnerable to cholera?

Populations most vulnerable to cholera include young children and the elderly. The severe dehydration from the diarrhea and vomiting can quickly lead to complications. Fluids are very important during this time.

Cholera only takes 2 hours to 5 days to make someone sick, but 1-2 days is the most common timeframe. There are three stages to a cholera infection. First includes abrupt watery diarrhea and vomiting. Next includes dehydration which shows in someone’s sunken eyes, loss of skin elasticity, and shallow breathing. Some people can die after this stage if not treated, but if they recover, blood pressure begins to rise and people begin to make urine again.

What are the side effects of the cholera vaccine?

The side effects from the cholera vaccine include tiredness, headache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and diarrhea. Because cholera is an oral vaccine, there is an increased risk of GI upset than injectable vaccines.

If you have ever had a prior vaccine reaction or are allergic to a component of the cholera vaccine, please let your travel health specialist know. If you are interested in receiving a cholera vaccine prior to travel, make an appointment at Away Clinic!


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