Vaccines When Travelling to Africa
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Vaccines When Traveling to Africa

Traveling overseas? If you go to Africa, there are some routine vaccines that every incoming visitor is highly recommended to take before travel. You probably need some vaccines when traveling to Africa. When you are traveling as part of a humanitarian mission, there is a big chance that you may be taking a higher risk of contracting local diseases due to the following factors:

  • Extended stay
  • Close encounters and prolonged exposure to locals
  • Lack of proper lodging facilities where you are traveling on a mission

Staying healthy throughout your stay means that you are capable of providing service to people who need your help. This article will show you how not to add to the dismal health statistics in your mission area, and how to stay part of the solution during your stay. Taking the recommended vaccines when traveling to Africa is a highly recommended health precaution that will better prepare you to serve there.

Staying Healthy During Your Travels  

Raptim is not a health care agent, and we do not provide medical advice. Nevertheless, Raptim is deeply concerned about the safety and health of development professionals like yourself. We understand the risks that you are taking.

Here are some practical tips to help lower your risk of contracting diseases and improve your safety throughout the visit:

  1. Seek information about the country that you are visiting and go to your local health provider and the embassy.
  2. Schedule a visit with your family doctor to get your health checked. Discuss your intention to travel, and get professional advice about the health precautions that you should take. This includes what vaccines you may require.
  3. Inquire about the local water source. If safe water is uncertain or, if the water source is unknown, it is best to fly in with your own supply of drinking water. Bring water purification tablets with you. Read more about this in this article about water purification.
  4. Inquire about where you can buy food. It is best to take your food supply with you if food safety is unclear. Pack food that has been specially prepared not to spoil under the most extreme weather conditions.
  5. Make sure to bring a pot and a heat source. Boiling water and food is one of the ways by which you can lower your risk for contracting diseases caused by contaminated food and water. That includes cholera, Hepatitis A, and typhoid.
  6. Bring a personal First Aid Kit. Include your maintenance medicines in it. Ensure that you have enough medication to last throughout your stay. Note that some drugs may require a Doctor’s Certificate or clearance to get through air and seaports, so inquire ahead of time and make the necessary arrangements.
  7. Make sure to pack the right clothes and gear. As the disease burden in Africa is wide and varied, sanitation and vaccines are not the only things to consider when traveling to Africa. Use clothes and gear to protect yourself from vector-borne diseases like malaria and yellow fever.
  8. Bring alternative means of communicating with your off-site team and with your family. It helps you stay safe, and it also helps you better coordinate your logistics. When traveling to remote regions, two-way radios are a great way to communicate locally. To connect with the outside world, however, it is best that you carry a satellite phone.
  9. Here are some more humanitarian travel guidelines you should follow.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

List of Vaccines When Traveling to Africa

This list is not exhaustive and does not constitute medical advice. Should you know of any other vaccinations that should be on this list, please contact us by Twitter @raptimhumtravel.

The following are the recommended vaccines when traveling to Africa:


Hepatitis A: This is a highly contagious liver disease that can be contracted from contaminated food and water sources, as well as intimate and close contact with a person who is infected. It is generally recommended for everyone traveling to Africa. Two doses, six months apart is recommended, with results lasting up to 10 years.

Hepatitis B: This is another liver disease. It can be obtained through contact with contaminated blood and needles, as well as sexual contact with a person who is infected. It is recommended for people who expect to be exposed via these means. The vaccine comes in three doses. A post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is highly recommended for anybody who has reason to believe they may have been exposed to Hepatitis B.

Yellow Fever: This is a mosquito-borne disease that involves a virus affecting the liver and kidneys. The vaccine for yellow fever is not generally recommended when traveling to parts of South Africa. However, travelers who will be coming in from affected countries, mostly from other parts of Africa, as well as Central and South America, will be required to show proof of vaccination. The Yellow Fever vaccine becomes effective ten days following treatment, with efficacy lasting up to a lifetime.

Malaria: This is another mosquito-borne disease that affects the liver and bloodstream, and has a high potential of becoming life-threatening. A vaccine that has shown low efficacy is currently being tested among children in select African countries. The best protection against malaria is avoiding mosquito bites. Ask for a long-lasting, insecticide-treated netting, and practice other prevention measures, including the use of insect repellents to prevent mosquito bites. Bringing a full dose of malarial drugs with you is also highly recommended if you are traveling to regions with a history of high malaria incidences. Read here what needs to be done to end malaria. You can also find more information about malaria in this article.

World Malaria Day 2018

Meningitis: This disease is caused by an infection of the brain and spinal cord. Vaccination is highly recommended if you are traveling to Sub-Saharan Africa. Vaccines are available for each or all strains of meningococcal disease.

Typhoid: This is contracted via contaminated food and water sources. All people traveling to Africa are generally recommended to get a typhoid vaccine. Vaccines are injectable and are also available in oral form. Efficacy lasts for at least ten years.

Polio: This disease can cause paralysis and even lead to meningitis. Polio vaccination is generally recommended as a four-dose treatment that children should take at prescribed periods. Adults who have been injected with the polio vaccine need only a booster shot. If the vaccination course is completed, protection lasts for a lifetime.

Rabies: This is a disease caused by animal bites, including bats, raccoons, dogs, and cats. Rabies vaccination is recommended for all who are visiting remote locations in Africa. The rabies vaccine is a four-dose treatment that needs to be completed within 14 days from the date the first shot is given. Rabies vaccines are just as effective when administered after a person has been bitten. Efficacy lasts for up to two to three years.

Standard Vaccinations

It is generally recommended that you are updated with conventional travel vaccines, including the following:

Tetanus: This disease can be contracted from soil that can infect wounds. The tetanus vaccine is now commonly combined with other vaccines, which includes polio and whooping cough. Prevalence is unusually high in countries falling in the middle section of Africa.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella: These are viral diseases that can lead to death if not adequately managed. The MMR vaccine, which addresses all three conditions, is generally recommended for use among children one year to 12 years of age. Adults who have no proof of MMR vaccination should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.

Take precautions for some diseases

The following diseases do not have vaccines, but there are precautions that you can take:

Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya: These are mosquito-borne diseases. The best way to prevent Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya is by avoiding mosquito bites. The use of mosquito nets, insect repellants, and clothes that cover most of your skin surface are some of the preventative measures that you can take.

African trypanosomiasis: Also known as “sleeping sickness,” this disease is caused by parasites that are spread by tsetse flies. This disease causes muscle aches and sleep disturbances. If untreated, African trypanosomiasis can lead to death. Prevent getting bitten by tsetse flies by wearing light-colored clothing. Use clothes and gear to cover most of your skin surface. The disease is common in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Raptim Duty of Care

As we are the world’s first humanitarian travel organization, we understand the world you live in. We recognize the personal health risks that our clients are taking when traveling to remote areas of the world, lending a helping hand to people who are in dire need of social services and genuine care. We want to be there for you when you travel, so we provide a range of services that put you in a better position to do what you do best — serving others.

As you take care of others, let us take care of you.

  • Through Raptim’s Duty of Care, we connect with you while you are in the field through the Amadeus Mobile Messenger, so you never feel alone out there;
  • We help you find the best available coverage from our partner insurance providers, giving you a sense of security when you travel on a mission throughout Insurance Assistance Service;
  • We understand the demands of your work and have made our services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via our 24/7 Emergency Services.

Besides knowing which vaccines you’re required to get before traveling to Africa, always remember to seek the advice of a medical professional in an emergency that involves your health.

Let Us Help You

We believe our world is a better place when compassion can travel to where it is needed most. That is why we devote ourselves to serving those who serve the world. By being a truly global travel organization, our experienced staff is reachable via a diverse means of communication at any given time. Use our quick address locator to contact your nearest Raptim office, should you have any questions. You can also follow our blog for more stories and travel information.