Typhoid vaccine shortage hits U.K.

A recall issued by a single pharmaceutical company has caused a shortage of vaccine against typhoid in the United Kingdom.

The October recall has left Britain missing approximately 88 percent of its usual stock of the vaccine, prompting doctors to warn potential travelers to the developing world it may become increasingly difficult to find, according to the Guardian.

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur MSD was forced to recall 16 batches of the vaccine after some samples were found to be too weak. In addition to the current shortage, nearly 730,000 people vaccinated between January 2011 and October 2012 could only be partially protected against the illness, which is most common in South Asia and South East Asia.

"Stocks of Typhim Vi are still in short supply and this may continue into the early part of 2013," a Sanofi Pasteur spokesman said, the Guardian reports.

The shortage was compounded by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline's decision to concentrate on other products. Its typhoid vaccine, Typherix, will not be made available until 2014.

The immunization is usually provided free of charge in Britain by general practitioners. The Health Department said that the shortage mostly affects travelers and not residents of the United Kingdom, where typhoid is not considered endemic.

"Typhoid is rare in this country and is usually associated with travel to countries where sanitation is inadequate," a Health Department spokesman said, reports.