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Cholera

2-minute read

Cholera is an illness that gives you severe diarrhoea and dehydration. It is most likely to be found in parts of the world with poor water and sanitary services.

A person can get cholera from drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated with the cholera bacterium. The illness can spread rapidly particularly in areas with poor hygiene.

Cholera can be mild or severe. Severe illness is usually indicated by extreme watery diarrhoea, leg cramps, and vomiting. Dehydration and shock are common. Without urgent medical care including intravenous hydration, cholera can be fatal.

The risk of catching cholera is usually very low so most travelers don’t need to be vaccinated. However, it is recommended for children aged 2 years and over and adults who are travelling to areas where there is a high likelihood of exposure to cholera, people going to work in a humanitarian disaster, and for people with certain conditions that put them at greater risk of travellers’ diarrhoea.

Cholera vaccine

Vaccination is your best protection against cholera. This table explains how the vaccine is given, who should get it, and whether it is on the National Immunisation Program Schedule. Some diseases can be prevented with different vaccines, so talk to your doctor about which one is appropriate for you.

How many doses are required?

Children aged 2–6 need 3 doses, 1–6 weeks apart.

Adults and children aged over 6 years need 2 doses, 1–6 weeks apart.

How is it administered? Oral (liquid)
Is it free?

No, there is a cost for this vaccine.

Find out more on the Department of Health website and the National Immunisation Program Schedule, and ask your doctor if you are eligible for additional free vaccines based on your situation or location.

Common side effects The vaccine is very safe. Rare side effects may include mild tummy pain, discomfort and diarrhoea.

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Last reviewed: April 2019

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