If you're thinking of visiting Africa in 2022, make sure you're fully vaccinated and up-to-date on all the latest travel health advice. African countries can be hotspots for a variety of illnesses and diseases, so it's important to take precautions before you go.
Africa is the second largest continent and health risks in each country vary widely based on region, climate, proximity to the equator, season, and other factors. Overall, Africa has the highest risk in the world for tropical and vaccine preventable diseases and you need to consider the following vaccines prior to trave to Africa:
Vaccines Needed To Travel To Africa
These are the shots needed to go to Africa as recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations. Many diseases are more common in countries outside of the U.S. because of lower community vaccination rates. First, get your flu shot. Influenza is still the most common vaccine preventable disease in the world and international travel increases your risk of getting the flu.
The COVID-19 vaccine not only protects you from serious illness or death, but is still required for travel to many destinations. Measles and pertussis outbreaks are frequent around the world so make sure you are up to date with your MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) and TdaP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccinations.
Africa has the highest incidence of Hepatitis A in the world. Hepatitis A is easily transmitted through contact with contaminated food or water. Fortunately, the Hepatitis A vaccine is extremely effective and provides lifetime immunity. Careful food and water precautions are also important to prevent Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B is also highest on the African continent and is transmitted through contact with blood products and bodily fluids. People at risk for contracting Hepatitis B include aid and refugee workers, adventure travelers, or tattoo collectors, among others. You may also be at risk if you get sick or injured and need emergency medical care. Hepatitis B is preventable by completing a series of vaccines that also provide lifetime immunity.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that causes fever, headache, and diarrhea. It is endemic throughout most of Africa and can be deadly in up to 10% of cases. Typhoid is transmitted through contact with contaminated food or water and can be prevented with a typhoid vaccination as well as food and water precautions.
Do I need a yellow fever vaccine to travel to Africa? Sub-Saharan Africa is one of two places in the world where yellow fever is endemic (the other is the Amazon basin in South America). Yellow fever is a viral disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It causes severe headaches, fever, muscle pain, and vomiting and can be deadly in up to 50% of cases. There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, so vaccination is important prior to travel.
A yellow fever vaccine may also be required for entry to some countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. A yellow fever vaccination can only be obtained from a certified yellow fever vaccination center. Deciding whether or not you need a yellow fever vaccine can be complicated and can even depend on the order in which you visit certain countries.
Schedule a pre-travel health consultation with a travel health specialist to determine whether the yellow fever vaccine is required or recommended for your trip. Since 2016, a single yellow fever vaccination is considered to be valid for life as long as it is recorded in an official international certificate of vaccination.
How Do I Avoid Getting Malaria in Africa?
Malaria is another important and preventable mosquito-borne disease that is common in Africa. The type of malaria most often found in the tropical regions of Africa is the most dangerous in the world and can be fatal if not treated.
The best ways to avoid contracting malaria are to follow insect bite precautions including using a DEET-based insect repellent; treating your clothing with permethrin; and taking a prescribed malaria prevention mediation. Several different malaria medications are available. During your pre-travel health consultation, your travel health provider can recommend the best one for you based on your itinerary and activities. An effective malaria vaccine is not widely available for travelers to Africa.
Can I Get All of My Africa Travel Vaccinations at the Same Time?
These safe and effective vaccines can all be administered during your pre-travel health consultation. It is always a good idea to book any follow-on booster shots during your visit so that you can achieve lifetime immunity and be prepared for your next globetrotting adventure.
Other Important Tips for Travelers to Africa
In addition to getting the recommended vaccines, here are some other important tips for travelers to Africa:
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, and avoid ice in drinks.
- Do not eat any raw fruits or vegetables unless you can peel them yourself.
- Avoid dairy products, as they may not be pasteurized.
- Stay safe and avoid rabies by avoiding contact with animals. Be especially cautious around dogs, monkeys and bats.
- Bring a good quality insect repellent containing DEET.
- Wear long sleeves and pants to protect against mosquito bites. Choose light colors that are less visible to insects and mosquitoes.
- If you are going to be in remote areas, bring a medical kit with supplies like bandages, antibiotics, and pain medication.
- Carry a copy of your immunization records with you in case you need medical care while abroad.
- Make sure to have a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes evacuation in case of any medical emergencies.
Where To Get the Advice and Vaccines Needed To Travel to Africa
It's important to be fully vaccinated against all the diseases that are common in Africa. Specialty travel clinics have the most up-to-date information regarding your destination and will have the needed vaccines in stock.
If you're looking for a reputable travel clinic that offers vaccines for Africa, contact TravelBug Health. We provide a one-stop-shop for all your travel health needs. During your pre-travel health consultation we can administer all necessary vaccines, provide insect bite prevention supplies, and dispense or prescribe antimalarials and other medications relevant to your itinerary. We are also a certified Yellow Fever travel vaccination center. Request an appointment today!