Tick vaccination: what you need to know

Find out who should get the tick vaccination, what is covered by your health insurance and how to avoid tick bites. We answer the most common questions about tick vaccination.

Who should get the tick vaccination?

In Switzerland, the tick vaccination is recommended for anyone aged 6+ who lives close to a risk area or is likely to spend time near one. The risk area includes all the cantons of Switzerland except Geneva and Ticino. Ticks are usually found in damp areas in deciduous and mixed forests with lush undergrowth.

You need three vaccination shots in order to be fully protected. The first two shots are given in the space of one month. Depending on the vaccine used, you will need to have a third injection five to twelve months after the second vaccination.

Please note: tick vaccination only protects against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE); it does not prevent Lyme disease.
How often do I need a vaccination booster?
You need to have regular booster injections to stay protected from TBE. The Federal Office of Public Health recommends a vaccination booster once every ten years.
When is the best time to be vaccinated?
Ticks become active as the weather gets warmer and humidity levels rise. So TBE tends to occur in the early summer. That means winter is the best time to get a tick vaccination in Switzerland.
Does the vaccination have any side effects?

Some people experience side effects after a tick vaccination. Side effects are not necessarily a bad thing: they show that your immune system has begun to generate antibodies to protect you from TBE.

Common side effects:

  • Discomfort around the site of the injection
  • Headaches
  • Fever

Other side effects:

  • Swelling around the site of the injection
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Aching muscles and joints

Rare side effects:

  • Swelling of the lymph glands

If the side effects do not ease after a day or two, you should consult your GP.

How much does a tick vaccination cost? Are the costs covered by my health insurance?
According to the Federal Office of Public Health, the cost of TBE vaccination is not always fully covered by your compulsory health insurance. In order for the cost to be covered by your health insurance, you have to live or occasionally spend time in an area where vaccination is recommended.
How can I prevent tick bites?

Taking a few simple precautions can massively reduce the likelihood of being bitten.

  • Wear long trousers, long sleeves and sturdy shoes. For added protection, you can tuck your trousers into your socks.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing: it makes it easier to spot ticks.
  • Spray your skin and clothes with insect repellent.
  • Avoid walking through brush, bushes and tall grass.
  • Check your body and clothes after a walk. Young ticks are tiny and look a bit like spiders, so watch out for them too.

Tick bite: what should I do?

You should remove the tick as soon as you can. But there are some important points to remember. Certain symptoms should ring alarm bells.

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