Travel vaccinations for South Africa
If you are planning a holiday anywhere in Africa, you’ll likely need some immunisations. Your vaccinations for South Africa must include routine vaccinations – MMR (Measles, mumps and rubella) and DTaP (Diphtheria and tetanus) – as well as other specific South Africa vaccinations depending on your style of travel and other factors.
South Africa is increasing in popularity as a tourist destination, with the creative city of Cape Town and the famous wines along the Western Cape, drawing more people every year. It is a very dynamic country with a mix of developed and underdeveloped parts and there is a wide gulf between the two. Because of this, a travel health specialist can help you figure out the types of injections for South Africa that you’ll need.
We recommend getting your jabs for South Africa 6-8 weeks before your trip but we also have walk-in appointments and a specialised team to help if you’re outside this timeframe.
What injections do I need for South Africa?
MMR (Measles, mumps & rubella) & DTaP (Diphtheria, tetanus & polio)
All travellers must have routine vaccinations, MMR and DTaP, for any trip to South Africa, regardless of length of stay or type of travel. You may have already had these jabs in the past, but we advise checking this as you may need a booster.
Typhoid & Hepatitis A
These are particularly relevant vaccinations if you’re planning to eat a lot of local food as typhoid and hepatitis A are transferred through contaminated food and water. However, even if you’re planning on living that resort life, it still pays to be protected against these infectious diseases when you go to get your jabs for South Africa. Even something like an ice cube that isn’t made from mineral water can be enough to transfer the infectious bacteria.
Hepatitis B is a risk across Africa, and we particularly advise those at risk of disease, children and anyone travelling frequently or staying long term to include this as part of their Sri Lanka jabs.
Like most parts of Africa, rabies is a risk. South Africa has committed to eliminating rabies by 2030, however there is still a long way to go. Last year in South Africa, there were a number of human cases reported in 4 of the country’s provinces.
The table below provides a general guide as to the Travel Vaccinations that may be advised to you for travel to South Africa. All Travellers should ensure that they are up-to-date with Routine Vaccinations including Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio and Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Most travellers will also need to consider a course or booster of Hepatitis A and Typhoid as there is a risk of these diseases across most parts of the world. Some Travellers may also be advised additional vaccinations based on a risk assessment to include itinerary, current and past medical history and lifestyle .
|MMR||Yes||Person-to-Person||MMR, Course of Two||£60|
|DTaP||Yes||Person-to-Person||Revaxis, Single Dose||£50|
|Typhoid||Yes||Contaminated Food and Water||Typhim Vi, Single Dose||£50|
|Hepatitis A||Yes||Contaminated Food and Water||Avaxim/havrix, Single Dose||£86|
|Hepatitis B||Yes||Body Fluids, Medical Intervention||EnergixB, Course of Three||£65|
|Rabies||Yes||Infected Animals||Course of Three||£66|
|Rabies||Yes||Infected Animals||Rabipur, Course of Three, ID, in rabies clinincs||£45|
Advice for travellers to all destinations
The Vaccinations and Medications that are needed for travel vary from person-to-person. Everyone should have a personal risk assessment with a travel health professional to take into account a range of factors such as itinerary, medical condition, occupational and lifestyle risk factors and previous vaccination history.
Risk of malaria in South Africa
Malaria is spread by the plasmodium parasite passed to humans from the bite of an anopheles mosquito. Malaria is a serious illness with symptoms include fever, chills, sweats and flu like symptoms. In severe cases, malaria can be fatal. There isn’t currently a vaccine available for our travellers, although there are other ways to protect yourself.
Travellers to areas where there is a Risk of Malaria should get advice regarding Malaria Medication which can be taken to help stop the illness from developing. The type of medication required depends on your destination, itinerary, length of stay and current medical condition. Further reduce the risk of by practising mosquito Bite Avoidance by using Insect Repellent such as DEET 50% and covering exposed skin by wearing long sleeves and trousers.
Risk of yellow fever in South Africa
Yellow Fever is a serious viral illness spread by mosquitoes in the tropical regions of Africa and South America. For further information, please see Yellow Fever Vaccination.
Additional travel risks for South Africa
Heat and humidity
The South African climate is mostly temperate, with extreme heat in the South-West, coastal regions. Summer temperatures can rise to 33 or higher. Remember to apply sunblock (SPV at least 15). See Heat and Sunburn for further information.
South Africa has a high level of crime. Travellers to tourist regions are generally safe, and the authorities give high priority to the safety of tourists. Incidents of break-ins and robberies are common. Keep up-to-date with the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before travelling to South Africa.
Travelling with children
The entry requirements for South Africa are such that immigration officials can ask to see the birth certificate of any child you are travelling with, particularly if the parent’s surnames are different. While this has been relaxed and is less common for British nationals to be asked, it’s good to be aware that it could happen as part of your entry requirements.
Street dogs and cats are not uncommon in South Africa. If you get bitten or scratched, you will need to get urgent medical attention. Animal bites expose you to a range of infections including rabies.
Food and drink
South Africa’s food is delicious and varied, from the cuisine of different indigenous peoples, as well as food brought over, created and merged during the various waves of colonisation.
We thoroughly recommend checking out all the different types of local cuisine, but be aware that contamination is a possibility. In 2018, South Africa experienced one of the world’s worst outbreaks of food contamination. Get the right vaccinations for South Africa that you need for your type of trip and don’t eat anywhere that doesn’t look sanitary.