Confused by Vaccinations? Don’t Be. Here’s the Skinny!
Confused by african safari vaccinations? You are not alone! This may be the most common question I get from clients as they are preparing for their upcoming safari!
Although we ALWAYS recommend you visit with your own doctor or travel clinic before making any decisions, here’s my own special cliff notes version to help the casual safari traveler navigate through the waves of conflicting information out there:
Lucky for us Tanzania is an easy country to travel to and not much is required in terms of vaccinations. As far as what vaccinations you *should get*, ultimately the decision is up to you, I can only tell you what I would personally choose for myself (that’s my quick disclaimer!) That being said, personally I would get a “Hepatitis A” vaccination, a “tetanus booster” (only as needed) and “polio” vaccination (only as needed, many people have already had this one as a child). I would also get a prescription for “anti-malaria medicine” (Malarone is a good one) and a broad spectrum anti-biotic such as “Cipro” (to bring with you as a precaution, to combat a common annoyance we like to call “traveler’s diarrhea”).
A few words about a couple specific vaccinations that I am commonly asked about:
**Yellow Fever: There is a lot of conflicting information out there about the Yellow Fever vaccination and whether or not it is required. Basically, a Yellow Fever vaccination is NOT required as long as you are traveling to Tanzania directly from the US or Europe (most of our clients fall into this category, and consequently most clients do not need to get a yellow fever vaccination). You can even see from the CDC website that a Yellow Fever vaccination is “generally not recommended” for travelers to Tanzania only. However, if you transit through a yellow fever endemic country such as Kenya or Ethiopia on your way to Tanzania, and remain in transit in one of these countries for over 12 hours, then a yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into Tanzania. Also, if you have other countries besides the US or Europe on your travel itinerary, check to see if you need a Yellow Fever vaccination for those countries. For example, A Yellow Fever vaccination is required for entry into South Africa for anyone traveling to South Africa after visiting East Africa.
**Typhoid: Typhoid is a very low risk situation while on safari and a vaccination against Typhoid is generally not recommended for the casual safari traveler. Typhoid is generally spread by food or water poisoning in unsanitary conditions, and may be a problem in rural villages of developing countries. But since you are staying in very nice lodges and only drinking bottled water you can rest assured it is all safe for your consumption.
Travel clinics will generally take a very conservative approach to vaccinations and you may feel like a pin cushion by the time you leave! Nothing wrong with that viewpoint either and the decision is obviously yours, but the casual safari traveler just isn’t at high risk for many illnesses. Of course, if you were working with sick people in a medical clinic in Tanzania or if you were going to be living in a remote Tanzanian village for several months and drinking tap water, my recommendations would be different.
Please also make sure to discuss any medications or vaccinations with your personal physician to ensure you can take them safely. For example, some types of anti malaria medications conflict with some types of heart medication. Not something you want to find out while you are out on safari!
It’s worth noting that some family doctors are not very familiar with travel abroad and may not carry all the vaccinations you need, in which case you’ll likely need to pay a visit to your local travel clinic (most major cities have one).
If you choose to get some or all of the vaccinations, please try to schedule them several weeks ahead of your trip. Best not to save this type of thing for the very last minute!
For even more information on vaccinations, visit the subject at the Company’s FAQ section: Safari Health
So don’t let the subject of vaccinations scare you! Travel to Tanzania doesn’t require much except for an appropriate amount of awareness and maybe a few precautionary pricks. But trust me, it’s SO worth it.
NOTE: *This advice represents personal opinion only and is no substitute for a doctor or nurse’s professional recommendations. Africa Dream Safaris always recommends that each guest seek advice from a local Travel Clinic and/or Doctor regarding what vaccinations and medications are appropriate for each individual’s situation.*