WHAT IS CHOLERA?
Cholera is a disease that is usually caused by consumption of fecally contaminated water and food and is most likely to occur in parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Cholera vaccine is a suspension of two strains of killed cholera bacteria in saline solution. Phenol is added as a preservative. Cholera vaccine is about 50% effective in preventing disease. The indications for cholera vaccine are travel to or from and residence in countries with cholera. Cholera vaccine is not recommended for infants under six (6) months of age.
The best protection is to avoid contaminated food and water. Vaccination for cholera is not a substitute for careful food and water consumption. Some countries require cholera immunization for persons entering the country, especially when arriving from another country where cholera occurs.
The primary immunization series consists of two (2) doses of vaccine given one week to one month apart. For persons who are to be vaccinated in the US because of anticipated travel to a country requiring cholera for entrance, a single dose of vaccine is sufficient to satisfy international health regulations. With the threat or occurrence of epidemic cholera, health authorities of some countries may require evidence of a complete primary series of two (2) doses or a booster within six (6) months before arrival.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS FROM THE VACCINE:
The injection often results in 1-2 days of pain, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. There may also be fever, listlessness, headache, and/or generalized aches and pains. Serious reactions to cholera vaccination are rare. If you have had a serious reaction to the vaccine, revaccination is not advised.
There is no specific information on the safety of cholera vaccine during pregnancy. Therefore, during pregnancy its use should be individualized to reflect actual need. Consideration should be given to the benefit of vaccine versus the potential risk to the fetus.
WARNING: THOSE WHO SHOULD NOT TAKE THE VACCINE:
1) Infants under 6 months of age.
2) Persons with any acute respiratory disease or other active infection.
3) Any person receiving immunosuppressive therapy such as cortisone-type medication or cancer chemotherapy, because these patients may have diminished antibody response to the immunization.
If you have questions about cholera and/or cholera vaccination, please ask us now or call your doctor before you receive the vaccine.
If the person who received the vaccine experiences any of the above side effects and visits a doctor, hospital or clinic after vaccination, please report it to the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health.
Note to UWMC/HMC patients: If you have questions on this information, please consult your UWMC/HMC health care provider.
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