Tick-borne encephalitis is a serious infection that can cause flu-like symptoms and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), and can be fatal. It is usually spread through tick bites, but it can also be caught through drinking unpasteurised milk.

High risk areas: the far eastern part of the former Soviet Union, including eastern Russia and Siberia, some parts of China and Japan, western Russia, Austria, Hungary, the Balkans, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Scandinavia. Tick-borne encephalitis is mainly found in forested areas.

The tick-borne encephalitis vaccine is recommended for anyone who:

  • plans to live in a high risk area,
  • plans to work in a high risk area – for example, as a farmer or forest worker, or
  • plans to travel to high risk areas during late spring or summer, particularly if camping or hiking.

The vaccine

The vaccination requires a course of three doses for full protection. The second dose is given 1-3 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 3-5 years if protection is still necessary.

If there is not enough time before you travel to complete a normal course of the vaccination, you may be able to have an accelerated course. This will involve two doses being given two weeks apart. Two weeks after the second dose, 90% of people who receive the accelerated course will have immunity against the condition.

The tick-borne encephalitis vaccine is not suitable for children who are under one year of age.