What Vaccines do I need to travel to Africa? – Travel vaccine checklist – African Safari Entry Requirements
What Vaccines do I need to travel to Africa? – When your Africa safari is booked and confirmed, you’ll likely experience a surge of emotions, ranging from the excitement of anticipating a new adventure to the thrill of fulfilling a dream and, perhaps, a tiny tingle of anxiety about possible health concerns (often fuelled by friends or family who have never travelled to Africa).
The good news is, with sound medical advice from your doctor or travel clinic specialist plus up-to-date vaccinations and good, old-fashioned common sense; you are very unlikely to have any serious health concerns. Ironically, the riskiest part of any journey in terms of your health is likely to be the long-haul flight. We recommend that you visit your doctor well in advance of your safari adventure to discuss any health concerns you might have.
This is a general, basic overview of some vaccinations needed for safaris. Before travelling to Africa, every person should visit their own doctor or local travel clinic, well in advance of their departure, to obtain advice. Each person is different, has different underlying conditions, allergies, etc., so a pre-trip health check and discussion of what vaccines and malaria prophylaxis are necessary, and other health concerns, is imperative.
Some diseases that have been made rare in your home country due to routine vaccinations may be far more common in the developing world. As such, it’s recommended that you visit your health care provider four to six weeks before you travel to ensure that you are up to date with the following routine vaccinations:
MMR – measles, mumps and rubella (German measles)
Hepatitis A & B
DPT – diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus
Important: It’s essential that you be in optimum health if you are trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas, as they are hyper vulnerable to human diseases. A common human cold can kill a gorilla, so you will not be allowed to join the trek if you have even the slightest symptoms of illness. Trek slots are non-refundable and non-transferrable, so look after yourself and nip even the smallest health issue in the bud.
Yellow fever vaccination
Yellow fever is spread by a species of mosquito that is common in the ‘yellow fever belt’, which stretches across parts of Africa and South America. It’s easily prevented with a simple and highly effective vaccination that’s routinely available from travel clinics.
As its spread by disease-carrying females of the species, the risk of contracting malaria is highest when and where mosquitoes are prolific; particularly during the hot and humid summer months in tropical regions.
Malaria is one of the most common diseases in Africa, but is easily preventable and treatable with antimalarial medication. Visit your doctor to get advice about whether you should take antimalarial prophylactics as soon as you know when and where you’ll be travelling.
Adhere to the prescribed schedule of your antimalarial prophylactics to ensure that they work as planned. If you experience any uncomfortable or unexpected side effects while you’re on safari, let your guide or camp manager know.
Vaccinations are not 100% effective
Please remember that no vaccine protects you 100%. The most important way to not get an infectious disease – after vaccination – is to avoid the causes.
This means, amongst other measures, mosquito repellents and nets and covering up between dusk and dawn, to avoid mosquito bites (yellow fever and malaria), drinking bottled water (no ice!), being careful about what you eat and washing fruits well before eating, using condoms and avoiding risky behavior.