Tick-borne encephalitis is a serious infection that can cause flu-like symptoms and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). It is usually spread through tick bites, but it can also be caught through drinking unpasteurised milk.
Tick-borne encephalitis is mainly found in forested areas. High-risk areas include:
- the far eastern part of the former Soviet Union, including eastern Russia and Siberia
- some parts of China and Japan
- western Russia
- the Balkans
- Czech Republic
The tick-borne encephalitis vaccine is recommended for anyone who plans to:
- live in a high-risk area
- work in a high-risk area, for example as a farmer or forest worker
- travel to high-risk areas during late spring or summer, particularly if camping or hiking
The vaccination requires a course of three doses for full protection. The second dose is given one to three months after the first, and provides immunity for about one year. A third dose, given 5–12 months after the second, provides immunity for up to three years.
A booster dose can be given up to three years after the third dose for continued protection. Boosters can continue to be given every three to five years if protection is still necessary.
The course can sometimes be accelerated. This involves two doses being given two weeks apart.
The tick-borne encephalitis vaccine is not suitable for babies younger than one.