South Africa

Vaccinations for South Africa Travel

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Do you need vaccinations for South Africa travel? There are many things to know before visiting South Africa for the first time like the best holiday destinations in South Africa or how to see South Africa in 7 days.

It’s important to take precautions especially for safety in South Africa but one thing most people trn.d to forget is the importance of getting vaccinations for South Africa travel. Are vaccines mandatory for visiting South Africa? which vaccines are recommended? This blog answers all your questions.

Vaccines can prevent infectious diseases for infants, children, and adults. Without vaccines, you are at risk of serious illness and suffering from pain, disability and even death from diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

Common causes of death in South Africa (diseases)

According to Statistics South Africa, the most common causes of death in South Africa are:

  • Ill-defined and unknown causes of mortality – 57 159 (12‚5%)
  • Other external causes of accidental injury (includes drowning‚ smoke inhalation‚ poisoning) – 34 096 (7‚5%)
  • Tuberculosis – 29 513 (6‚5%)
  • Diabetes – 25 255 (5‚5%)
  • Other forms of heart disease (includes pericarditis‚ endocarditis‚ pulmonary valve disorders‚ cardiac arrest‚ atrial fibrillation) – 23 515 (5‚2%)
  • Cerebrovascular diseases – 23 137 (5‚1%)
  • HIV – 21 830 (4‚8%)
  • Hypertensive diseases – 19 960 (4‚4%)
  • Influenza and pneumonia – 19 638 (4‚3%)
  • Other viral diseases (includes cytomegaloviral disease‚ mumps‚ infectious mononucleosis‚ viral conjunctivitis) – 16 577 (3‚6%)

Overall, the cause of death in South Africa is largely due to what is categorized as natural causes, which account for 88.8% of all deaths. The other 11.2% of deaths were non-natural causes.

Vaccinations for South Africa

Malaria in South Africa

Taking precautions for malaria is highly recommended. It can be hard to avoid mosquito bites especially if you go on safari, I recommended bringing insect repellent, wearing clothing such as long sleeves and long pants.

The best way to be protected from Malaria is to get the vaccination for South Africa travel. Malaria risk is present throughout the year, but highest from September to May inclusive.

Risk is high in low altitude areas of Mpumalanga Province (including Kruger National Park) and Limpopo Province, Vhembe and Mopani districts, Musina, Thohoyandou and surrounds. There is low to no risk areas in all other areas.

Ebola in South Africa

Ebola virus disease (EVD) (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and non-human primates.

The disease is caused by the Ebola virus infection. Human-to-human transmission of the virus occurs following when blood or other infectious bodily fluids (may include stool, urine, saliva, and semen) of an infected person come into contact with broken skin or mucous membranes including the nose, eyes, and mouth of a contact. 

Infection can also occur following direct contact with environments that are contaminated with an Ebola patient’s blood or body fluids, such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.

After two outbreaks (near the Ebola River, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and South Sudan) occurred almost simultaneously, the disease was first identified in 1976. Since then, sporadic outbreaks have occurred in the DRC, Uganda, South Sudan, Congo, and Gabon,  resulting in less than 2,500 confirmed cases with death rates of 50-90% of Ebola patients died from 1976-2013. 

The largest EVD epidemic occurred in West Africa from December 2013 to June 2016, with over 28,616 suspected cases and 11,310 deaths reported to the World Health Organization mainly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.

There were no reported cases of Ebola in South Africa, but EVD may be imported to South Africa by travelers returning from EVD affected countries. If you want to get vaccinated, you should ask your doctor for the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) vaccination.

Yellow Fever in South Africa

Yellow fever virus (YFV)  is a mosquito-borne viral disease that infection can range from mild to severe. The YFV is a single-stranded RNA virus in the Flaviviridae family. The virus is transmitted by a bite of an infected mosquito vector.

According to the World Health Organization, Yellow Fever is prevalent in Africa and South America and there are some countries where a yellow fever certificate is a prerequisite for entry. These countries are Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), The Democratic Republic of the Congo, French Guiana, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Uganda.

To avoid the global spread of the disease Countries defend themselves against the threat of importation or further transmission of the yellow fever virus by setting traveler entry requirements for yellow fever vaccination.

Some mild symptoms of yellow fever include Fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach, and muscle pain are mild signs of yellow fever. Hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever are more severe symptoms.

While yellow fever is not present throughout the globe, yellow fever vaccination is important because of the virus’s high mortality rate.

In addition to receiving a yellow fever vaccine, travelers should be sure to use appropriate mosquito repellents or netting. Yellow Fever is not a required vaccination for South Africa travel but a disease to be aware of when traveling to different African countries.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A, also known as infectious hepatitis, is a viral disease of the liver. The hepatitis A virus is relatively stable in the environment and is easily spread to close contacts who are not immune.

All people are at risk of hepatitis A infection. Hepatitis A can spread among young children in daycare because many are in nappies and cannot wash their own hands. These children are usually asymptomatic, and so prevention is difficult. People who share the same household and sexual partners of persons with hepatitis A are at risk of becoming infected. Persons who develop Hepatitis A or persons who are vaccinated are protected for life against subsequent infections.

Hepatitis A virus is found in the stools (feces) of persons with active disease. It is spread by the ‘faeco-oral’ route – for example – when people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet or changing nappies or soiled sheets, and then touch their mouths, prepare food for others, or touch others with their contaminated hands.

It may also be spread by contaminated food or water.  A person with hepatitis A is most contagious 2 weeks before illness starts until 1 week after the onset of jaundice. Amongst household contacts of persons with hepatitis A, only 20-50% of contacts develop hepatitis A.

There is no treatment for the disease and most people do not need any, as the condition resolves on its own. 

Hepatitis B 

Hepatitis B is spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse.

Rabies

Rabies spreads through an infected animal’s saliva, usually by scratching, scraping, or kissing on broken skin. Dogs and similar animals in particular, as well as cats and bats.

Travelers should avoid contact with animals (both wild and domestic) particularly dogs and cats. Even when the pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.

HIV in South Africa

South Africa has the 4th highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world with 18.90% of the population testing positive for the virus. 

The estimated overall HIV prevalence rate is approximately 13,1% among the South African population. The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at approximately 7,52 million in 2018. For adults aged 15–49 years, an estimated 19,0% of the population is HIV positive.

According to a study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), recently published in the journal Nature.

South Africa’s HIV adult prevalence rate was much higher than most other countries, including Kenya (5.6%), Nigeria (3%), Namibia (13.8%), Zimbabwe (13.5%) and Mozambique (11.9%).

The study also found that In Johannesburg, almost half-a-million (466,000) adult residents between the ages of 15 and 49 have HIV.

There is no vaccination for HIV, the best way to protect yourself is to use protection and get tested regularly.

Salmonella

Salmonella is Gram-negative bacteria of the Enterobacteriaceae family. Salmonella is divided into two main groups on the basis of the illness they cause – typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella.  

Humans and certain animals can get an infection with Salmonella through eating contaminated food products of animals that normally carry Salmonella bacteria, such as meat, poultry, milk, and eggs. Salmonellosis is a zoonosis – a disease acquired from animals.

There is no vaccine currently available for salmonella poisoning, but it’s important to know that In 2019 there were a few cases of Salmonella in South Africa. The best way to prevent salmonella is good hand hygiene, separation of raw and cooked foods, thorough cooking of poultry and meat before consuming, and the use of safe water and raw ingredients.

Do you need vaccinations to go to South Africa?

VaccinationsRequirementsRisk in South Africa
Yellow FeverNoLow
MalariaNoMedium
EbolaNoLow
Hepatitis ANoLow
Hepatitis BNoLow
TyphoidNoLow
RabiesNoLow
CholeraNoLow

Travel Insurance for South Africa

Use travel insurance while visiting South Africa so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in SA, and it’s best to have peace of mind while diving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.

Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

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