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Vaccinations

vaccination

Because of improved treatment and general health, people with HIV are travelling further afield, requiring vaccines that were previously not advised for people with compromised immune systems.

Should I get vaccinated before travelling?

If immunisation is a requirement for travel, it’s a good idea to discuss the matter with your HIV doctor or another member of your HIV healthcare team.

It’s best to get advice about vaccinations at least eight weeks before you’re due to travel. If you do need new vaccinations, some need to be given well in advance so that they can work properly. You may feel a little unwell after the injection as some people have side effects from vaccines.

You also need to make sure your existing vaccinations for the UK are up to date, such as polio, hepatitis A and B and tetanus. If not, you can arrange booster injections.

Find out more about vaccination requirements for different countries.


Is it safe for me to vaccinate?

Generally, you should not be given 'live' vaccines if your CD4 count is under 200 cells/ml. Some live vaccines can be given to people with higher CD4 counts, such as Yellow Fever.

However, some live vaccines should not be given to HIV positive people, unless in exceptional circumstances. These include:

  • Cholera,
  • polio,
  • typhoid,
  • tuberculosis (BCG),
  • smallpox (Vaccinia).

More recently the impact of current HIV treatments have led to many HIV-positive people having immune systems that are able to cope with live vaccines. However, there are exceptions so it is important to discuss vaccination with a healthcare professional to ensure that the treatment is suitable for you.

Vaccination against influenza, which occurs year-round in the tropics, is also advised for people with HIV, who are at risk of flu-related complications.

Malaria should also be considered.


Will I experience side-effects?

You may have an increased risk of infection or experience more severe symptoms following exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases. Therefore, it may be more important for you to be vaccinated than the general population. Vaccination is often less effective in HIV positive people, and you may benefit from higher or more frequent vaccine doses.

There are no known interactions between vaccines and HIV medication.

Inactivated (non-live) vaccines that may be used safely in all people with HIV:

  • Cholera (WC/rBS)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningococcus
  • Pneumococcus (PPV23) 
  • Rabies RS Travel
  • Tetanus-diphtheria-parenteral
  • Poliomyelitis (Td/IPV)
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Typhoid (ViCPS) RS Travel

If you're not sure if you should get yourself immunised before travelling, you can always start by calling THT Direct for free advice.

‹‹ Previous: Travel insurance for people with HIV

 

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1 comments

  • would be great to have more detailed information regarding Yellow Fever and Malarial vaccines, ie which brands are available and which are preferable for hiv positive people and any potential side effects/ meds that have known interractions. These are vaccinations that one might have outside UK when travelling and seems information on this is very sketchy online. would be good to have some trust worth information on this at hand.

    Posted 13:54 Fri 03 Mar 2017

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 27/1/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 27/1/2018

Content Author: Clive Blowes

Current Owner: Policy

More information:

Guidelines for immunization of HIV-infected adults, BHIVA (2008) 

Immunizations and HIV, HIV InSite (2010)

Which vaccinations do I need to travel abroad?, NHS Choices (2009)