How Necessary are Polio & Typhoid Shots....Really?

#1 Jun 25th, 2005, 00:21
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Have my shot appointment set up and plan on getting the heps, tetanus, polio & typhoid (going to Chennai, September). And yes, I've read the CDC and WHO websites, searched every post here about who got what shot, and I know it's all a matter of personal choice. I know people who have taken no precautions whatsoever and they're fine, and others who take every precaution and they wind up in an Indian hospital with IVs.

I know somebody who is going to Kerala in August, then up to the Golden Triangle, and she only got the hep shots and tetanus. She thought her chances of being exposed to polio and typhoid were so small, she decided against those shots.

Since IMers are totally knowledgeable about everything Indian, what's the scoop? How necessary are polio and typhoid shots, really?
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#2 Jun 25th, 2005, 00:52
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I thought if you take anything like a basic package Polio and Typhoid are the first among them. Polio you've probably been vaccinated against as a child but most (young) adults are given a booster when travelling to the tropics, I think the watershed is 15 years after your last shot. I figure it doesn't cost much and lasts for many resp. several years and is a good prevention against one potentially lethal and another very debilitating disease so why not. Others figure differently.

nb In the Netherlands the polio vaccin normally comes as part of a DTP or DKTP shot (diphteria/[pertussis]/tetanus/polio, not to be confused with the English DTP = the same without the polio). You might want to enquire about the two missing ones while you're at it.
#3 Jun 25th, 2005, 01:10
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Originally Posted by machadinha I thought if you take anything like a basic package Polio and Typhoid are the first among them. Polio you've probably been vaccinated against as a child but most (young) adults are given a booster when travelling to the tropics, I think the watershed is 15 years after your last shot. I figure it doesn't cost much and lasts for many resp. several years and is a good prevention against one potentially lethal and another very debilitating disease so why not. Others figure differently.

nb In the Netherlands the polio vaccin normally comes as part of a DTP or DKTP shot (diphteria/[pertussis]/tetanus/polio, not to be confused with the English DTP = the same without the polio). You might want to enquire about the two missing ones while you're at it.
Actually, from what I've gathered from other people in my area, you can get each shot separately. For example, if you just want hep A, that's what you get, or the combo of A&B. Everyone I know who has gone to India lately picks and chooses their vaccines, there is no "package".

My polio shot was back in the late 1950s (yes, I'm an old broad), as with most people I know. Don't even know if I ever had a diptheria or pertussis shot as a child (probably not, tho I had a TB test once and passed out....), and I don't know anyone who has gone to India who has gotten the dipth. or pertussis shot. As I say, most everyone I know just picks and chooses which ones they want to get.
#4 Jun 25th, 2005, 01:13
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Yes it seems to vary per country a lot or depending on what doctor you see for that matter. I guess my "basic package" referred to the Dutch situation, one I'm not very unhappy with. I assume anywhere they'd be happy to advise you though.
#5 Jun 25th, 2005, 01:40
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It's a good idea if you travel at least every year or two to keep your vaccinations up-to-date as a matter of course.
That way you'll only ever need booster shots.
I seem to remember that the last polio vaccine I had ( and like machadinha said) it lasts for a number of years was administered via a droplet under the tongue,,,,,,,,,,,,
#6 Jun 25th, 2005, 05:05
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Just visited Kaiser for advice on shots for India and Paksitan-Hep A, polio, typhoid and tetanus. But was sent for a blood test to see if I have an immunity to Hep.? if not then they'll give me the shot. Had the typoid shot about 10 years ago for Pakistan and about a 6 in circle around the injection became inflammed and raised, very painful. Also my doctor will let me know about malaria pills before leaving. Alot to go through for a vacation but I had two friends return this year from trips - 1 was hopitalized with Hep. in Lahore and the other came back from Banglore with parasites!
#7 Jun 25th, 2005, 05:12
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Originally Posted by yogagal60510 She thought her chances of being exposed to polio and typhoid were so small, she decided against those shots.

Since IMers are totally knowledgeable about everything Indian, what's the scoop? How necessary are polio and typhoid shots, really?
maybe I should have worded my question differently.....

how necessary are the polio and typhoid shots, i.e., what are the chances of being exposed to these diseases? The woman I know decided against these two shots because she thought her chances at exposure were minimal, as opposed to hep. and tetanus.
#8 Jun 25th, 2005, 08:11
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I was told by the overseas medicine clinic in San Francisco where I got my shots that if you're over 50 you don't need polio shots - ? I didn't get it.
#9 Jun 25th, 2005, 11:54
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Over-50s shouldn't get any shots. People are living too long these days; we oldies should do our bit to prevent this problem
#10 Jun 25th, 2005, 12:03
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Originally Posted by Nick-H Over-50s shouldn't get any shots. People are living too long these days; we oldies should do our bit to prevent this problem
I feel like I'm doing my bit every time I get into a vehicle in India!
#11 Jun 25th, 2005, 12:03
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yogagal60510:

get them all, dont take that risk.
You'll probably have a lot to worry as-it-is.

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#12 Jun 25th, 2005, 12:39
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Typhoid is available as a pill. I have only seen paratyphoid but it was first rate bad news. Typhoid does break out in India. I was in Hyderabad when the was one such event. All my efforts to find a shot went to no avail. Its a cheap protection. However, the bad news is its only partially effective (some is probably better than none).

Polio is still found in India and is a cruel disease and I wouldn't want to be part of spreading it. Its also a cheap pill. People tell me the pill treatment isn't effective as long but for softies its great! In my opinion these are relatively cost effective items (don't forget the Hep!) vs. JE and rabies..
#13 Jun 25th, 2005, 18:36
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Originally Posted by edwardseco Typhoid is available as a pill. I have only seen paratyphoid but it was first rate bad news. Typhoid does break out in India. I was in Hyderabad when the was one such event. All my efforts to find a shot went to no avail. Its a cheap protection. However, the bad news is its only partially effective (some is probably better than none).
hm. yea, i had the oral form of the typhoid vaccine a few years ago and on a more recent consultation, my doctor advised me to get another vaccine but in shot form because apparently the effectiveness (or the duration) of the oral form is unknown. so, if you do get it, I think its probably better to get an injection
#14 Jun 25th, 2005, 18:38
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#14
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Originally Posted by yogagal60510 maybe I should have worded my question differently.....

how necessary are the polio and typhoid shots, i.e., what are the chances of being exposed to these diseases? The woman I know decided against these two shots because she thought her chances at exposure were minimal, as opposed to hep. and tetanus.
Hi Yogagal, don't get me wrong here but I think the question starts at the wrong end so to speak, and it pops up here regularly: People seem to be aware that the professional advice is to take a set of basic vaccinations, including the ones you mentioned, with slight differences depending on the country and the professional you ask. If they want to decide differently who are we to advise them, they can only receive the obvious yesses and no's when looking for reassurance. Some people ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Look at it this way, I haven't had the flu for several years now (knock on wood). Someone I know gets it several times a year. What does this tell us about the occurence of the flu where I live and your chances of getting ill? Precious little, just that it's a common disease and it's a bitch if you get it, if luckily relatively harmless to most people. There are websites and institutions to ask about the prevalence in India of the diseases at hand but it seems you've already consulted them.

For what it's worth and I don't assume I'm telling you anything new, maybe for the future reader, from my 1992 Dutch tropical disease booklet:

Typhoid: An intestinal infection, caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. Except for a high fever there are few typical symptoms. Contrary to popular belief it does not involve frequent diarrhea. It sometimes causes diarrhea, more frequently constipation. The patient may suffer from headaches and after several days from drowsiness. Typhoid is common enough in the tropics that any "mysterious" fever that doesn't respond to antimalarial treatment should be examined in this light. If treatment is timely the patient will usually quickly recover; if left untreated the person may die of complications such as peritonitis (burst appendix). All travellers to the (sub-) tropics are advised to get vaccinated against this dangerous disease. The injection is known for possible swellings and a slight fever (last about a day or so); the oral vaccin does not usually have such side effects. At the time they gave protection for 3 years, with a booster providing protection for an additional 3 years.

Paratyphoid: caused by the bacteria Salmonella paratyphi A, B, or C. Sometimes serious and only distinguishable from typhoid by means of a lab test. Often merely an innocent bout of diarrhea. No longer vaccinated against in the Netherlands because of the many side effects and slight degree of protection. Sometimes still given abroad.

Polio: A virus infection transmitted similarly to other intestinal infections (from infected feces to the mouth, via contaminated water or food or carried by flies for instance) but mainly manifested in the nerve system, leading to the infamous symptoms of paralysis. Widespread in the tropics, where adult European visitors are also at risk (contrary to the name of "infantile paralysis"). All travellers to the tropics are advised to get vaccinated.
There are three strands of the polio virus. Most Dutch infants are vaccinated against all three as part of their DKTP vaccination (diphteria/pertussis/tetanus/polio). A booster (minus the pertussis) is usually given at age 4 and 9. Travellers to the tropics who have received adequate vaccination as a child are given one booster if their last shot was more than fifteen years ago, which also provides protection against diphteria and tetanus (DTP shot, not common abroad). Others need a series of three shots, the third after more than 6 months; protection in either case lasts for 15 years. An oral vaccin exists.

The 1993 Lonely Planet India guide adds that the typhoid vaccin is not totally effective and that it is one of the most dangerous infections, requiring medical attention. It also cautions that typhoid is very infectious, and it lists pneumonia as another possible complication. Polio is only mentioned in a small caption where it says that your doctor may recommend a booster shot. For typhoid it mentions that a vaccination is useful for extensive travel in rural areas. It also lists an insect-borne disease called typhus in English (typhoid is called tyfus in Dutch and the two are not to be mistaken I'm sure; in Dutch the proper term for this disease would be vlektyfus).

nb There are people of course who are against polio vaccinations because in a small number of infants at least it may cause the disease itself. It's a different discussion and for people themselves to decide, I personally don't feel it outweighs the risks of not being vaccinated. How this risk reflects on adults I don't know.
Last edited by machadinha; Jun 25th, 2005 at 20:13..
#15 Jun 25th, 2005, 22:48
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thanks, machadinha, this is pretty much what I wanted to know....

When the woman I know told me "I'm not getting the polio and typhoid shots, because what are my chances of being exposed anyway....", it made me think "hmmmm......yes, what ARE the chances, REALLY?"

This woman and her husband will be in Kerala for 10 days at a yoga retreat at a "resort" (?), then taking another week to go up to Golden Triangle area.

I told her that I will not be as "insulated" as they will be (in the resort), so I'd rather not take any chances, one has to weigh the pros and cons....

shanti.
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