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What shots do I need for a trip to Africa?

If you are traveling to Africa, there is a good chance you'll need some shots. The shots you need will depend on (a) what part of Africa, (b) how long you're staying, (c) what you will be doing while there, and (d) your immunization and medical history. 

Africa vaccine checklist

Yellow fever and typhoid in Africa

Typhoid and yellow fever are the two most frequently recommended vaccines for travel to Africa. In many cases, proof of yellow fever immunization (which is provided via yellow card) is required for entry into the country. Both of these vaccines are safe and effective. Both of the diseases they protect against are deadly or disabling. 

Typhoid vaccine: This vaccine provides protection from typhoid fever which is mainly spread through contaminated water. You can choose from an oral vaccine or an injection. 

Yellow fever vaccine: This vaccine protects against yellow fever virus which is spread by mosquitoes. 

yellow fever and typhod

You may need malaria pills too

There is currently no vaccine in the U.S. for malaria but there are drugs you can take to help prevent malaria. Talk to a travel health specialist about your options. Whether you need to take malaria pills really depends on where you go and what you're doing while there.   

Map shows 2020 incidences of malaria (Malaria Atlas Project)

malaria pills

The CDC is recommending a polio booster for adults

Polio is on the rise everywhere. The CDC is advising travelers to get a one-time booster shot of polio for travel to many countries. As of January 3rd, 2023, this affects African countries of Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt (healthcare facilities, refugee camps, and humanitarian aid settings only), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda.

why polio booster
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Do you need a meningitis shot?

If you plan to be in the meningitis belt during the dry season (December-June) the CDC recommends you get a meningitis shot as well.

Even if you had the meningitis vaccine and booster as a child you will likely need a booster. The CDC recommends a booster every 5 years for people traveling to the meningitis belt. 

Map is from the U.S. CDC


Talk to a travel health nurse 

Perhaps the most important thing when preparing for you travels is to consult with one of our highly trained and experienced travel health nurses in your area so that you can get (a) expert health advice and (b) the correct vaccinations and medications for your trip. 

talk to a travel health nurse
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