What is it for?
The cholera vaccine prevents people who are travelling to affected areas from becoming infected with a particular type of bacteria called Vibrio cholerae.
Cholera causes serious diarrhoea, which can be life-threatening. You can get cholera by eating or drinking food contaminated with the bacteria.
Who should be vaccinated?
The cholera vaccination is not recommended for all travellers. This is because the risk of getting cholera is very low for most travellers. The vaccine is occasionally given to people, especially humanitarian workers, travelling to countries where cholera is present, such as India, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.
Vaccination against cholera is not an official requirement for entry into any foreign country.
If you have a medical condition that means you may be more at risk of infection (e.g. HIV infection), or that you are more likely to get diarrhoeal disease (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease), having the vaccination can prevent you from getting cholera when you travel. Ask your doctor for advice about whether or not you should be vaccinated.
If you need to have the vaccine, you should have your vaccination at least 2 weeks before you travel.
This vaccine is not part of the National Immunisation Program. Anyone wanting to be vaccinated can do so at their own cost.
The cholera vaccine is not recommended for women who are pregnant. This is because there is not enough information about the safety of this vaccine in pregnant women.
Read about what vaccines you can have if you are pregnant.
Women who are breastfeeding
There is no known risk to your baby if you are vaccinated with the cholera vaccine while you are breastfeeding.
Women who are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine except the yellow fever vaccine.
Protection against cholera will decrease with time
Note that the cholera vaccine provides good protection from infection for the first 6 months after vaccination, but the protection will decrease with time:
- children younger than 6 years will only be protected for about 6 months
- adults will be protected for about 2 years.
So if you’re travelling to a country where cholera is present and it’s been longer than 6 months since your child was vaccinated, or more than 2 years since you were vaccinated, you need to be vaccinated again before you travel so that you’re properly protected from infection.
For more information, read the NSW Department of Health fact sheet on cholera.
Common side effects of the cholera vaccine (that may affect 1 to 10 in every 100 people) include:
- mild stomach and gut (gastrointestinal) problems
Read more about vaccine side effects and safety.
Who can I ask about side effects?
If you’re concerned that you or your child may have had side effects related to a vaccine, seek medical advice. To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm AEST).
- Rossi S, ed. eAMH [online]. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook, January 2013.
- Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Office of Health Protection. 4.1 Cholera. In: The Australian Immunisation Handbook, 10th edn. www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/handbook10-4-1
- Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Office of Health Protection 3.2 Vaccination for international travel. In: The Australian Immunisation Handbook, 10th edn. www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/handbook10-3-2
- NSW Department of Health. Factsheet: Cholera. www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/infectious/cholera.html