Why you need to get vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis and when to do it

Why you need to get vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis and when to do it

In 2024, ticks became active ahead of time, and there are already the first victims in the Moscow region. How to protect yourself while relaxing in the country and on tourist trips? And why is it important to start prevention early? We tell you all about the vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis.

Why you need to get vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis and when to do it

What is tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that is transmitted to humans by the bite of ixodid ticks. In addition, a person can become infected by drinking unpasteurized goat or sheep milk. The disease has a severe course: the central nervous system is affected, meningitis occurs up to the development of encephalitis, which leads to acute and flaccid paralysis. If the disease is caused by the Siberian subtype of the virus, after the acute phase, some people develop a chronic or progressive course of the disease. The recovery period after tick-borne encephalitis takes 6–12 months.

Who is at risk

The risk group for tick-borne encephalitis includes people who live in endemic areas. The exact list of these zones can be found on the Rospotrebnadzor website; this list is updated every year. In the Moscow region, Dmitrovsky and Taldomsky districts are endemic. Vaccination is shown to everyone who lives in an endemic area or is planning a trip there. Those who spend time on the ground are at particular risk – gardeners, hikers, as well as geologists, employees of agricultural enterprises, mushroom pickers and simply those who like to walk in the forest.

Still from the film “Moonrise Kingdom”
Still from the film “Moonrise Kingdom”

Who should not be vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis?

Those who are in a state of acute infection or are experiencing an exacerbation of a non-infectious chronic disease should not be vaccinated. Such people can be vaccinated a month after recovery or remission of a chronic disease. The tick-borne encephalitis vaccine is contraindicated for people with autoimmune diseases, those who have had early allergies to vaccine components or severe reactions to previous doses of the vaccine. The vaccine should not be given to pregnant women or while breastfeeding. However, pregnant women can be vaccinated if there is a high risk of contracting tick-borne encephalitis. For example, in the case of permanent residence in an endemic area. The vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis is approved from 1 year of age.

How does vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis occur?

Vaccination is possible according to two schemes. The first is if it is known in advance that you will need to get vaccinated, for example, in the summer for a trip. Then it is better to start vaccination in the fall. The second vaccine administration can occur between 1 and 7 months. And a year after the second dose, revaccination is prescribed.

If the need to protect yourself from tick-borne encephalitis becomes known right now, vaccination is carried out according to an emergency schedule. In this case, the interval between two doses of the vaccine is two weeks. After the second dose of the vaccine, you can enter the endemic area after 14 days. And a year later – revaccination. After the first revaccination, the vaccine must be repeated every three years.

The vaccine can be administered simultaneously with other inactivated vaccines. The only exception is the rabies vaccine.

What not to do after vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis

There are no restrictions as such after the vaccine. The only problem is severe reactions to the vaccine (for example, high fever or headache), because of which you should not drive.

Still from the film “Moonrise Kingdom”
Still from the movie “Moonrise Kingdom”

Possible side effects

Side effects occur (if they occur) within two days after vaccination and last no more than three days.

Local reactions – redness, swelling, pain at the injection site. Sometimes there is an increase in regional lymph nodes. Very rarely – infiltration.

Common reactions include malaise, headache, and fever.

Is the vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis effective?

The vaccine is highly effective. The level of protection varies between 90–100% depending on the specific vaccine preparation. Vaccination helps prevent severe disease, for which there is currently no specific therapy.