Everything you need to know about Cholera Vaccination: Importance, Effectiveness, and Availability

Cholera is a waterborne illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It continues to be a significant threat in many parts of the world, particularly in areas with inadequate water and sanitation facilities.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection that can kill within hours if untreated. It is primarily spread through contaminated water or food. In the 21st century, the disease is largely preventable and treatable through vaccines.

This blog will take you through everything you need to know about cholera vaccination as a prevention option.

How is Cholera Contracted?

Cholera transmission occurs mainly in environments where access to clean water and sanitation is limited. Here are common ways through which cholera can spread-

  1. Drinking contaminated water- The most common mode of transmission, especially in areas where water treatment and hygiene are compromised.
  2. Consuming food exposed to contaminated water- Foods, particularly shellfish, that have been in or washed with contaminated water can harbour the cholera bacterium.
  3. Direct contact with an infected person- Handling food or water without proper hygiene after coming into contact with an infected person can also lead to transmission.

Although the risk to travellers is generally low, understanding these transmission sources is crucial. This is especially important when you’re visiting regions where cholera is prevalent.

How Can You Treat Cholera?

The primary cholera treatment involves oral rehydration solution (ORS), which is a mixture of clean water, salts, and sugars that replaces fluids lost through diarrhoea. In severe cases, intravenous fluid replacement may be necessary.

The disease does not typically cause death directly. However, severe dehydration from rapid loss of body fluids can be fatal, if not addressed timely. While treatment is straightforward, the challenge in cholera-endemic regions is the lack of immediate access to healthcare, which can lead to preventable deaths.

Do I Need a Cholera Vaccine for Travelling?

When planning your travels, particularly to regions that may be affected by health risks, it’s essential to consider the necessary vaccinations. Whether you need a cholera vaccine before travelling depends on a few key factors. You need cholera vaccine for travel if you-

  1. Are travelling to cholera-affected regions- Particularly if you plan to visit remote areas with limited healthcare access.
  2. Work as aid and relief workers- Those working in disaster or outbreak zones where cholera is a risk.

The cholera vaccine is typically administered orally in two doses. The vaccine is taken 1 to 6 weeks apart, with completion at least one week before travel to ensure efficacy. The protection can last up to two years.

Which is the Best Cholera Vaccine for Adults?

In the UK, the recommended cholera vaccine for adults and children over two years old is Dukoral®. This oral vaccine is inactivated and protects against V. cholerae serogroup O1, the most common cause of cholera outbreaks.

What is the Importance of Cholera Vaccine?

The cholera vaccine is important for several reasons, particularly in preventing the spread of the cholera disease and reducing morbidity and mortality. Here are the key reasons why cholera vaccination is crucial-

  1. Prevents disease transmission- Cholera is primarily spread through contaminated water and food. Vaccination helps prevent the disease from spreading, especially in areas where water and sanitation infrastructure is poor.
  2. Reduces severity and duration of illness- For those who do contract cholera, being vaccinated can reduce the severity and duration of the illness. This decreases the risk of severe dehydration and other complications associated with cholera.
  3. Decreases mortality rate- Cholera can be deadly, particularly among children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of death from cholera.
  4. Aids in controlling outbreaks- In areas where cholera outbreaks occur, vaccination campaigns can be crucial in controlling the spread of the disease. This is particularly important in emergency situations like natural disasters or refugee crises where the risk of cholera outbreaks is high due to disrupted water and sanitation systems.
  5. Cost-effective public health strategy- Preventing cholera through vaccination is often more cost-effective than treating large outbreaks. This is especially relevant in low-resource settings where healthcare systems may not be able to handle large-scale cholera treatment needs.
  6. Supports long-term control efforts- Vaccination is a key component of the global strategy to reduce cholera-related deaths by 90% by 2030. Regular vaccination in endemic regions helps build community immunity over time. This contributes to the long-term control and potential elimination of the disease.
  7. Improves economic stability- By preventing disease and reducing the severity of outbreaks, cholera vaccination maintains economic stability in affected regions. This is because healthier populations are more productive and less burdened by healthcare costs.
  8. Facilitates safe travel and trade- For people travelling to or from regions where cholera is prevalent, vaccination can prevent the introduction of cholera to new areas. This is important for both public health and international trade.

What is the Effectiveness of Cholera Vaccine?

Cholera vaccines are highly effective at preventing the disease, especially during outbreaks. To keep their effectiveness, it’s important to stay up to date with booster doses. Adults especially benefit from the vaccine, as it can significantly lower their risk of catching cholera for up to two years following the initial vaccination.

Visit Miles Pharmacy for Cholera Vaccination

Cholera is both preventable and treatable, and cholera vaccination plays a key role in the fight against this deadly disease.

Cholera vaccine is available at Miles Pharmacy. Book an appointment with us as we provide cholera vaccine and travel health advice to help keep you and your loved ones safe.