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Vaccinations for Travel in Africaby Dalene Ingham-Brown

A trip to Africa can be the experience of a lifetime. Whether you're exploring the architecture and giant bazaars of Morocco, the pyramids in Egypt, or going on a safari in Sub-Sahara Africa, you are bound to have an unforgettable journey. Before you set out on your adventure, however, you should pay careful attention to which vaccinations are required. Some are mandatory and others are highly advisable, but the below breakdown tells you everything you need to know, when it comes to vaccinations for travel in Africa:


Photo by Kurhan


Routine Shots

Most adults try to keep up to date on their standard vaccinations, including things like measles, chicken pox and influenza. While there are no laws (either in Africa or abroad) that require you to be up to date on these shots, it is a great idea to have them done before you travel. These diseases which are not considered relevant or life threatening in a Westernised country can become more dangerous when you travel to Africa.

Required Vaccinations for Travel in Africa

There is only one vaccination which is mandatory at selected border crossings in Africa, and that is a Yellow Fever vaccination. You can either get this injection vaccine before you go, or when at the border. However, if you wait until you get to the border, be prepared to pay over double what you would've paid at home. Other than Yellow Fever, there are no vaccinations you HAVE to take. Even malaria tablets are optional, however highly recommended. The most common optional, but important, vaccinations needed when travelling in Africa include immunisation against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Tetnis. The Center for Disease Control also has an additional list which contains recommended or required vaccines for specific countries. Be sure to check this list and comply with the requirements well before visiting your intended African destination.

Is a Yellow Fever shot painful?

No. Yellow Fever shots are not painful. I heard horror stories about how the injection needed to be administered through the spine and was bone chillingly painful. I can safely tell you that this is absolute rubbish. I recently had the Yellow Fever and Typhoid injections in one arm, and the Hepatitis and Tetnis injections in the other.  There was a tiny prick of the needle and it was all over. The next day however there was a small bump where the needle went in, but this is completely normal and the lump eventually goes away, as does the slightly bruised feeling.

Plan in Advance

It is important not to leave your required vaccinations until the last minute. Many shots can be quickly administered, but take a week or longer to work effectively against a disease. Whenever possible, speak with your physician a few months in advance, and make an appointment to receive vaccinations 4-6 weeks prior to departing. Remember that if you require a series of shots, as is required for vaccines like those protecting against Hepatitis, you might need to have several shots, each a few days or weeks apart.

Bring Paperwork

Don't assume that since you have had vaccinations that you can forget about it during your vacation. Bring along medical documentation of the various diseases you are protected against, in case any government authorities or border patrols need to see it before allowing you entry. In particular, you will certainly need documentation of yellow fever vaccinations if you enter most Sub-Saharan countries, including South Africa.


While not technically a vaccine, it is wise to consider which preventative measures you can take against Malaria when visiting Africa. Understand what precautions you can take while there to avoid the disease, and take anti-malarial tablets before you depart, during your trip and possibly even after your return. Watch this YouTube video for more guidelines for how to survive in African Wilderness and what vaccinations you will need to travel to Africa:


By following these guidelines, you will be ready for your safari in Africa! Remember that many vaccinations for travel in Africa are required, so be sure to plan for them during your vacation preparations.

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