Below you will find a list of diseases for those travelling to Southern or Central America. Some you can be vaccinated against while others you need to be aware of. You can find out more information on the regions and diseases to watch out for, the requirements of immunisation, and helpful advice, which is given on the Fitfortravel NHS website.
Planning to travel to Southern and Central America? It sure is a great place to visit with the diverse and varied cultures and landscapes the continent has to offer. However, consider before heading to these continents what you need to know and the vaccine requirements before any visit. Do not be tempted to skip the injections - or leave them until the last minute. (Ask a GP or nurse for advice.) They will have a list of the appropriate vaccines and medications you will definitely need. Give yourself a couple of months prior to travelling as some vaccinations need time to take effect.
We can advise you on what you need. Having effective vaccination cover and taking preventative medications will ensure your visit results in no nasty surprises while you are there or when you return home.
Check with the doctor at least a month or two before your trip is very important.
The requirements for yellow fever and malaria vaccinations periodically change in Southern and Central America so consult with our doctor or nurse who will be able to assist you and make sure the appropriate vaccine is given to you to reduce any health risk.
Prior to being given the following vaccines our doctor or nurse will need to assess your individual suitability on a case by case basis. You may need an International Certificate of Vaccination to prove you have been immunised against Yellow Fever, as Southern and Central America will not allow you entry unless you can produce one.
The WHO and CDC recommend numerous vaccinations for Southern and Central America:
Chikungunya cases vary because it occurs as outbreaks. First reported in the Caribbean and the America. More than 1.2 million cases in these regions have been reported most in Brazil (265,000 suspected cases), and in Bolivia and Colombia 19,000 suspected cases.
Anybody can get Chikungunya fever. However, it tends to be more severe in certain groups:
Very young children and newborn babies.
People over 65 years.
People with other medical problems..
Chikungunya is not contagious; you cannot catch chikungunya from another person. It is caught if you are bitten by a mosquito which carries the virus. If a mother has the infection newborn babies may be affected. Chikungunya fever during pregnancy may also result in infection and problems for the developing baby.
The virus enters your system when bitten by a mosquito. These mosquitoes tend to bite in the daytime rather than at night.
Insect repellent sprays are recommended.
Malaria - The mosquito that causes malaria tends to bite from dusk until dawn.
If you plan travelling to the rainforest or perhaps go mountaineering or trekking, you will most likely need a shot of malaria prophylaxis vaccination. (Together with other recommended vaccinations are essential.) Our doctors and nurses will be willing to discuss your options and keep up-to-date information on vaccination requirements.
Malaria chemoprophylaxis is not prescribable on FP10. Chloroquine and proguanil can be bought over the counter.
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.
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.
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.
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 B Booster 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.
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 especially if it has been more than 10 years since your last injection as a precautionary measure. Our doctor or 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 Southern and Central America.
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.
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 you may not notice. You are especially at risk in areas with rabies.
You should plan for this vaccination at least two months before your intended trip to be fully covered and it consists of up to three injections which are given several weeks apart.
If that is not possible, having part of the vaccination treatment is still worthwhile. If you are 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.
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.
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 antibiotics as prophylaxis against traveller’s diarrhoea.
Antibiotics can have side-effects so it is best to avoid them if they are simply being used for prophylaxis purposes.
Typhoid - Typhoid is endemic to areas of poor sanitation – i.e. 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.
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 and 85% of infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, 17.5 million people were treated for Schistosomiasis.
Yellow Fever -
(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.
If you are planning to travel to any of the disease risks in South or Central America, we can help you stay protected with our vaccine packages. Our clinic can assist you by offering the correct vaccines and medicines depending on your destination. Please call us or go to our clinic as early as possible to ensure you have sufficient time to complete the necessary vaccination courses for your trip.
 Shaker Y, Samy N, Ashour E; Hepatobiliary Schistosomiasis. J Clin Transl Hepatol. 2014 Sep2(3):212-6. doi: 10.14218/JCTH.2014.00018. Epub 2014 Sep 15.
 Adenowo AF, Oyinloye BE, Ogunyinka BI, et al; Impact of human schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa. Braz J Infect Dis. 2015 Mar-Apr19(2):196-205. doi: 10.1016/j.bjid.2014.11.004. Epub 2015 Jan 27.
All information has been licensed under the Open Government Licence. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/
Suite 2, 117a Harley Street, London W1G 6AT
Monday - Friday 9:00 - 21:00
Saturday - Sunday 10:00 - 14:00
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.