Finding out what vaccinations and immunizations you need before you travel to Africa is an important part of planning your trip. This article will help you find out what shots you need to get, where to get them, and which ones come highly recommended so you can stay healthy when you visit Africa.
Planning Your Vaccination Schedule
Some vaccinations, like that for Rabies, come in a series and you need to plan at least a few months ahead of your departure to fit them all in. Your regular doctor probably won’t be able to give you all the vaccinations you need, so you should contact the nearest travel clinic for an appointment. Click for Travel Clinics in the UK; Travel Clinics in the US; Travel Clinics in Canada.
Finding Out Which Vaccinations You Need
The health situation in most African countries requires visitors to be up to date with all common childhood vaccines. This includes Hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio. If you are traveling with children, make sure they have had all their shots. You may also need to get boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and measles if you haven’t had those in a while.
The following vaccinations are also highly recommended for travel to every African country:
Recommended Vaccinations/Immunizations per Country
Some African countries have actual entry requirements and won’t let you in unless you have proof you’ve been vaccinated against a specific disease. The most common is yellow fever. Often, you need this only if you have traveled from a country where yellow fever is prevalent, so for those of you overlanding, it’s wise to get the shot before you go. Here’s a map of countries where yellow fever immunization is an entry requirement. Double check with the embassy of the country you are traveling to for the latest information.
Proof of immunization against cholera used to be a entry requirement for a lot countries but is no longer so. Many doctors agree the vaccine is actually quite useless.
Countries in Africa also differ as to which diseases are prevalent and you have to adjust your vaccinations according to your specific destination. While everyone should get the recommended shots listed above, to find out what you need to get per country see this health and travel web site for recommendations. Just click on the country you are visiting for a list of the vaccinations you should get.
There is no vaccine for malaria. If you are traveling anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa you should probably take anti-malaria prophylactics.