Planning to travel to Africa? It sure is a great place to visit with the diverse experiences and the varieties, cultures and landscapes the continent has to offer. However, consider before heading to Africa, what you unquestionably need to know about the continent and the vaccine requirements before you plan any visit there. Do not be tempted to skip the injections - or leave them until the last minute. (Ask a GP or a specialist travel nurse for advice.) They will have a list of the appropriate vaccines and medications you will definitely need for Africa. You need to give yourself a couple of months prior to your travel as some vaccinations need time to take effect.
We have specialists here at the clinic that can advise you on what you need to do. Having effective vaccination cover and taking preventative medicines will ensure your visit results in no nasty surprises while you are there or when you return home.
We stress the importance of not forgetting to get the necessary vaccinations before you travel to Africa. Going to remote, exotic places can be dangerous and protecting yourself against exotic diseases and knowing why as well as making sure you have the required medicines and vaccines can save you from long term problems later. Learn about the African vaccines on this page today. The list is long and some may not be required if you have immunity already however, this must be discussed with the doctor or nurse.
Vaccines and Medicines,
Advice should be taken from our doctor or practice nurse prior to being given the following vaccines for individuals on a case by case basis. You may need an International Certificate of Vaccination to prove you have been immunised against Yellow Fever, as some countries will not allow you entry unless you can produce one.
In Africa, some vaccines are required or recommended. The WHO and CDC recommend that if you plan to travel to Africa and South Africa, you need to get vaccinated for:
(A list of individual African countries and requirements of immunisation and helpful advice is given on the Fitfortravel NHS website. At the clinic we will be able to help you with the correct immunisations.)
Hepatitis A Three doses in total - (Day 0, 6-18 months, 20-25 years). If the second dose is late, 20-year protection can still be relied upon.
Hepatitis BBooster at 5 years or when antibody levels fall. Fast course: Day 0, then 1 month, 2 months, 12 months. Accelerated course: Day 0, 7, 21, then 12 months.
(We are a certified authorised centre for this vaccine).
Yellow Fever is transmitted by bites from infected mosquitoes during daylight hours. (It is a different type from the mosquito that carries malaria, which tends to bite from dusk to dawn.) The mosquito continues its infection spree from person to person. Although vaccination does offer high protection against yellow fever, taking additional steps to avoid being bitten is also important and strongly advised.
Pregnant women should not be immunised with this vaccine. It is sometimes given after the sixth month if there is a high risk of contracting it; also if you are breast-feeding and at high risk it may be given.
If you are immune-suppressed – i.e. people with HIV, on high-dose long-term steroids or receiving chemotherapy, etc. should not receive this vaccine.
Children under 9 months old should not receive the yellow fever vaccine. (Babies aged 6-9 months may occasionally receive the vaccine if the risk of yellow fever during travel is unavoidable.)
If you are ill with a fever you should ideally postpone the injection until you are better.
This vaccine contains small amounts of egg so a severe reaction to egg, although very rare, should not be given. (It does not mean disliking eggs or an upset stomach.)
If you have had a severe reaction to the yellow fever vaccine in the past this vaccine is contra indicated.
Those over 60 years old who have not previously been vaccinated against yellow fever are at an increased risk of side-effects.
If you have a thymus disorder this vaccine in contra indicated.
Chickenpox - (Contra indicated for pregnant women.) Air travel is not allowed for five days after the appearance of the last spot.
Cholera - Cholera vaccine is not needed by most travellers but advisable if travelling to a high-risk area. In pregnant and/or breast-feeding women the safety of this vaccine is not documented. Therefore, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, the vaccine should only be considered if the risks are high in areas known to have Cholera.
Dengue Fever - There are now vaccines available for dengue fever and some going through development but they are not available worldwide. In Brazil and Mexico, there is a vaccine already approved.
Ebola - It mainly occurs in West and Equatorial Africa. There is as yet no vaccine or cure for Ebola, and about 4 out of 10 of those infected die. The first Ebola outbreak was in 1974, and again in 1994 in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Further outbreaks then confirmed in Central Africa. The largest recorded outbreak was in March 2014 in West Africa which was first confirmed in Guinea.
Influenza - It is important to tell the doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding and it is recommended that pregnant women should receive the flu jab.
Please also inform the doctor if you have a condition that makes you bleed more i.e. haemophilia or are taking any other medications, including across the counter and herbal and/or complementary remedies.
Malaria - Malaria chemoprophylaxis is not prescribable on FP10. Chloroquine and proguanil can be bought over the counter.
Mefloquine, doxycycline, and Malarone® require a private prescription.
People should not buy anti-malarial medications abroad or purchased over the internet as they are more than likely to be fake.
Sprays and mosquito nets can be bought over the counter from chemists easily and should definitely be used.
Please see Malaria; World Health Organization, 2014 (updated 2016) on the internet for additional information.
Mumps Measles and Rubella (MMR) - (Contra indicated for pregnant women.) You should also not become pregnant for one month after having a rubella (MMR) immunisation. However, it is safe to have if you are breast-feeding. You should also not have the vaccine if you are having chemotherapy or are immuno-suppressed.
If you are allergic to neomycin or gelatine (which are part of the vaccine) it is contra indicated. There is an adaptation available which does not contain gelatine or if prefer not to have gelatine.
Meningitis - In Sub-Saharan Africa countries, (particularly in the dry season). You should be immunised against various strains of the meningococcal vaccine at least two weeks before you travel. There are very few people who cannot be given meningococcal vaccines. It is also safe to have the vaccine if you are breastfeeding. The risk for meningococcal meningitis is low for tourists but higher for people living or working in endemic or outbreak areas.
Pneumonia - Generally, booster doses of vaccine are not required. However, in people without a spleen or with certain chronic kidney diseases, antibody levels fall, gradually over time. These people should therefore have a booster dose every five years.
Polio - You may be advised to have a booster if you have not had a booster dose of vaccine within the previous 10 years and plan to travel to certain countries. This is particularly important for health workers who intend to work in high risk areas.
Rabies - Animals can transfer rabies, if infected, through a bite, scratch or by licking an open wound or broken skin. Bats can also pose a problem: you may be bitten while asleep and not notice if sleeping in the open. You are especially at risk in areas with rabies.
You should plan for this vaccination at least two months before you intend to travel to be fully covered. If that is not possible, having part of the vaccination treatment is still worthwhile. The injections - up to three - are given several weeks apart.
When visiting remote areas it is unlikely access to the right treatment is quick enough as medical facilities are few and far between and rarely have human rabies-specific immunoglobulin (HRIG) which gives rapid, short-term protection for anyone who has been bitten but not vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis - Is second only to malaria among tropical diseases and is the third most prevalent parasitic disease in the world.
It is endemic in 76 countries 85% of infected people lived in sub-Saharan Africa.In 2008, 17.5 million people were treated for Schistosomiasis: 11.7 million treated were from sub-Saharan Africa.
Shingles - (Contra indicated for pregnant women.) People with a weakened immune system may benefit from the vaccine. The vaccine is licensed for people over 50 however you may not be eligible for the vaccine on the NHS. We can do this for you at the clinic.
Tuberculosis - Vaccination against TB lasts for 10-15 years after BCG immunisation of children. However there is no evidence it offers any further protection when given to adults and appears to be less effective.
BCG should be given to:
1. Previously unvaccinated children under 16 years of age
2. Those who are Mantoux or interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) negative.
Immunisation is recommended for those under 35 years and going to live or work for more than three months with local people and there is a high rate of infected cases.
Tetanus: If you are up to date with your immunisations then you will not need it. However, if you travel to areas where medical attention may not be available then a dose of vaccine may be advisable even if you have had five previous injections. I.e. if it has been more than 10 years since your last injection. This is a precautionary measure. Our doctor or practice nurse will advise you on this. The tetanus vaccine is safe if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. You should not have another injection of the vaccine if it previously caused a severe reaction.
DTaP. (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis). These horrible diseases are all now rare in the UK and have saved innumerable lives. So it is very important that your baby is protected if you plan taking him/her with you to Africa.
DTaP is a combination vaccine, and now includes IPV (polio), Hib, Hep B or the hexavalent vaccine. It is usually known as the 6-in-1 vaccine:
1, 2 and 3: DTaP: Diphtheria (D), Tetanus (T) and acellular Pertussis (aP) (whooping cough).
4 IPV: Inactivated polio vaccine'. Polio is short for poliomyelitis.
5 Hib: Haemophilus influenza type b.
6 Hep B: Hepatitis B.
(The DTaP/IPV(polio) vaccine is offered to all pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy. The aim is to boost short-term immunity to their newborn babies who normally cannot be vaccinated until 2 months of age.)
Anyone who has been routinely vaccinated as a child should not need any more. However, boosters may be given if this is not the case. If not, then the vaccine is given as Td/IPV(polio), i.e. Tetanus and Polio only.
Travellers' Diarrhoea - People at high risk of becoming very unwell with a compromised immune system i.e. HIV infection, sickle cell, type 1 diabetes, on chemotherapy medicines for cancer. Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, or have an ileostomy or colostomy, antibiotics are usually prescribed to prevent traveller's diarrhoea.
Antibiotics can have side-effects so it's best to avoid taking them if they are just being used for prevention.
Typhoid - Typhoid is endemic to areas of poor sanitation - eg, Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central and Southern America and the Caribbean.
Keeping away from contaminated water will help prevent infection, however vaccination is strongly recommended.
Ten per cent of those that are infected can excrete the bacteria for up to three months and nearly half become long-term carriers.
Children under 12 months of age are not usually given the vaccine. Parents are strongly advised to observe standards of hygiene when travelling with young children to endemic areas.
Protective antibody cover falls over time and re-vaccination is necessary for continued protection.
Due to the limited protection offered by the vaccine, scrupulous attention to personal, food and water hygiene is emphasised to travellers.
Typherix®, Typhim Vi® is a combination vaccine with hepatitis A, for adults and for adolescents aged 15 years plus. If boosted within 6-12 months of the first dose, it gives immunity from Hepatitis A for ten years, and Typhoid for only three years.
Zika virus - It is spread by a bite from an infected mosquito. The particular mosquito responsible bites during daylight hours and there are many in urban settings. It can also transmit dengue fever, chikungunya fever and yellow fever. There is also a slight risk of sexual transmission.
A link has been identified between infection during pregnancy and babies born with birth defects. There is no vaccine currently available against ZIKV.
50% DEET- based insect repellents should be applied regularly (according to the manufacturers' instructions).
DEET is appropriate for use in pregnancy.
If DEET is unsuitable then a proven alternative should be used instead.
The vaccinations for Africa and South Africa are always recommended as a preventative measure and limiting the risk of spreading any diseases abroad and at home when you return. The most essential vaccines are: Hepatitis A, Cholera, Yellow Fever, and Rabies. Even if you have received these before on a previous trip(s) it is important to know how long ago and discuss this with the doctor/nurse as you may need a booster and/or additional vaccines and medications.
Africa Vaccine Requirements
It is important to speak with the doctor or nurse at least a couple of months before your trip as updates and changes do happen periodically. The requirements also depend on your length of stay, any pre-existing health conditions and your health generally. Discussing this with our doctor or nurse will ensure that you are adequately covered and receive the necessary up-to-date vaccines and medicines for your protection.
Our clinic can help you get the right and recommended vaccines at affordable prices. (Please see our prices and fees page for more information.) Our Africa vaccines are consistently updated depending on the current requirements.
You can feel confident that you are in safe hands. We work side by side with the health authorities to make sure we provide you with all the vaccines you need for safe travel.
Our clinic is registered and certified to administer Yellow Fever vaccines and will provide you with the necessary documentation for entry into certain countries that insist on it.
If you following the correct advice and appropriate health cover to remote areas, including South Africa your visit will be an uneventful and enjoyable one.
Our website provides the latest information on vaccine requirement and additional medications for the rest of the world. Check out the rest of the pages on this site to learn about the vaccines needed and additional medicines required for destinations abroad and to other areas. An excellent website we recommend is the Fitfortravel NHS website where you can get the latest and the most comprehensive information to keep you safe. Please also see our price and fees pages for more information.
All information has been licensed under the Open Government Licence. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/
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At Walk in Clinic, we provide convenient and affordable private gp services to patients. If you are staying, visiting or working in London, then our gp appointments can be conducted in person by walking in at the clinic.