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Vaccines in Africa – A guide to safe travel

Written by  Julie Graham

Ker & Downey Africa > Journal > Vaccines in Africa

The word ‘vaccine’ is on everybody’s lips at the moment. Truth is, vaccines in Africa have been around a long time. When booking a safari or island adventure to the remote regions of this magical continent, one often experiences a surge of excitement coupled with a hint of trepidation. “Will I get sick?” The answer to that question is most likely not, but there are some necessary precautions to consider to ensure optimal health during your trip. 

When traveling anywhere in the world, it is advisable to seek out sound medical advice prior to your trip. Before your adventure to Africa, be sure to consult your doctor, travel clinic and LuxVenture® designer. They will be able to tell you exactly what to look out for in the regions you’re visiting and offer up all the valuable information you need to know prior to your trip. 

In the meantime, we have put together some useful information about vaccines in Africa and some of the most common health precautions to consider:

Routine vaccines in Africa

It’s important to consult your physician to ensure that regular vaccinations – such as tetanus, influenza, and MMR – are all up to date before traveling in Africa. 

While the risk and prevalence of these diseases may not be of concern where you are from, there is always more risk when visiting developing countries that may not have had as much exposure to the long-term vaccines as you.

A mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 A mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
If you are visiting the mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda for example, it is absolutely important to be in excellent health.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are visiting the mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda for example, it is absolutely important to be in excellent health. A common cold or flu could seriously damage these sensitive creatures who are extremely susceptible to human infections.

COVID-19

Most commercial airlines flying into Africa still require travelers to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test conducted within 72 hours of departure. 

However, with the vaccine rollout steadily underway across the globe, we are hopeful that the strict protocols will be eased as the vaccine’s effectiveness is evaluated more thoroughly.

Most commercial airlines flying into Africa still require travelers to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test conducted within 72 hours of departure.

A man following COVID-19 safety protocols on a private jet

COVID-19 safety protocols on a private jet

Until this happens, each country in Africa has its own set of COVID-19 entry requirements. These are being updated daily by our team of travel experts and can be viewed HERE.

Yellow fever vaccines in Africa

Yellow fever is most commonly found in the ‘yellow fever belt’ in Africa and Central and South America. It is a disease spread by a particular species of mosquito found in these regions only. The vaccine for yellow fever has been tested and proven to be highly effective. It is available from most travel clinics around the world and lasts 10 years. 

African countries in the yellow fever belt

Angola Congo Guinea Nigeria
Benin Cote d’Ivoire Guinea-Bissau Senegal
Burkina Faso DRC Kenya Sierra Leone
Burundi Equatorial Guinea Libya Southern Sudan
Cameroon Ethiopia Mali Sudan
Central Africa Republic Gabon Mauritania Togo
Chad Gambia Niger Uganda

Though a yellow fever vaccination is not a standard requirement for those traveling into many countries in Africa, there are certain countries – particularly in East Africa – that have made it mandatory.

Countries that require a yellow fever vaccination include:

Republic of Congo Kenya Rwanda Tanzania
Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe

Countries that require a yellow fever vaccination ONLY if you’ve visited a country in the yellow fever belt include:

Botswana Madagascar Mauritius Namibia
Seychelles South Africa

Yellow fever certificates must be produced for all travelers over the age of one year and are valid for 10 years. Failure to produce a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate at a port of entry could lead to refusal of entry, or quarantine until the traveler’s certificate becomes valid. The quarantine will not be longer than six days.

Malaria

There are many parts of Africa that are considered high-risk Malaria areas. This disease is spread by being bitten by an infected female Anopheles mosquito and the risk is highest when mosquitoes are prolific – particularly during hot and humid months. 

We advise you to first consult with your LuxVenture® Designer to check if you are visiting an affected area. If so, contact your physician about Malaria prophylactics before traveling. 

There is no vaccination for Malaria, but antimalarial medication has been tested and proven to work.

Scuba divers swim past a cave near Four Seasons Desroches, Seychelles.

Scuba diving at Four Seasons Desroches, Seychelles
Scuba diving after your trip might affect the type of antimalarial you may be prescribed.

PLEASE NOTE: Scuba diving after your trip might affect the type of antimalarial you may be prescribed.

If you want to avoid traveling in a malaria area entirely, there are plenty of great malaria-free safaris to choose from.

General health tips while traveling in Africa

  • Sleep under the mosquito net provided in your room.
  • Make use of the insect repellent provided in your room by lightly spraying your body and room before leaving for a meal or safari drive.
  • Wear light-weight long trousers and closed shoes during safaris to prevent insect bites on your legs.
  • Avoid wearing dark colours, such as blue and black, in Tanzania. These colours attract the Tsetse fly, which can be a threat to your health if you get a sting.
  • Always apply high SPF sunscreen regularly and wear a sun hat.
  • Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and seek medical assistance if you feel shaky, nauseous or clammy after a day in the sun, as you may be suffering from sunstroke.
  • If you start to feel ill at any point of your safari adventure, let your LuxVenture Designer, lodge manager or guide know as soon as possible.

In conclusion, it is important to always double-check the health and safety requirements for the destinations you’re visiting. You can do this with your LuxVenture® Designer, doctor and travel clinic before your trip. Not only will this give you peace of mind during your travels, it will also ensure that your thrilling adventure is one for the books! See you out there.