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Vaccines Needed for Travel to Africa

by Mandi Schmitt on July 15, 2014

Of all the things to plan and prepare before you depart on your trip to Africa, making sure you get the right vaccines and immunizations is top priority.

It’s important to tell your doctor exactly where you are going and what you will be doing because this will determine which inoculations you will receive. Some parts of the continent are prone to different types of diseases, and studying in Cape Town, South Africa is entirely different than volunteering with AIDS patients in rural Kenya.

Remember to make your vaccination appointment with your doctor or a travel clinic (if you are in the U.S., you can find the nearest travel clinic here) several months ahead of time as certain injections need time to build immunity in your body, and others need to be given in a series. In order to stay happy and healthy during and after your trip, the following vaccines are recommended:

Rabies: This one comes in a series so you must plan ahead in order to fit them all in before your departure. It’s mostly necessary if you are staying in rural areas for an extended stay, but it’s better to take precautionary measures regardless of where you are.

Hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio: All of these are childhood shots and should be already taken care of, but it’s still important to double check. Also, you could be in need of a booster shot for tetanus, diphtheria, and measles.

Hepatitis A, meningococcal meningitis, and typhoid: These vaccines are highly recommended for every African country, and most travel destinations, so having these taken care of is a good idea.

Tuberculosis, yellow fever, cholera, Japanese B encephalitis, and tick-borne encephalitis: These are examples of diseases that are prevalent in some parts of Africa and certain countries require some of these before entry. Your doctor will know which are required where, and you can look them up on this health and travel website.


You can also visit The Center for Disease Control and Prevention for updated and relevant information about traveling with an existing disease and how to avoid new ones. Safe travels!

Which vaccines have you received prior to your African adventure?

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