Vaccines for South Africa | Recommendations & FAQs

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An important step in the preparation for a trip to South Africa for a safari or beach holiday is to be aware of travel health guidelines, regulations on vaccinations and what precautions should be taken in a visitor’s travel plans.

Any compulsory vaccines in South Africa?

Tourists arriving into the country to go on a South African safari should be aware that there are both routine vaccinations for entry and strongly recommended vaccination requirements.

A yellow fever vaccine is required if travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Furthermore, for most short-term travellers, many other vaccinations for South Africa are recommended. Visitors should also be aware of the latest Covid-19 restrictions and South Africa visa requirements prior to booking their trip.

Recommended vaccines for South Africa

Some vaccines are recommended for South Africa.

The CDC recommends the following vaccines for South Africa:

VaccineRecommendation
CovidRecommended for everyone 5 years of age and older to get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before travel.
MalariaTravelers going to certain areas of Namibia should take prescription medicine to prevent malaria many days before their trip, as well as during and after their trip.
Chickenpox (Varicella)2 doses of chickenpox vaccine for children, adolescents, and adults who have never had chickenpox and were never vaccinated.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-PertussisCDC recommends diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccinations for everyone.
FluCDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine as an option for vaccination.
MMRTwo doses of MMR vaccine to prevent measles and protect against Mumps and Rubella.
PolioCDC recommends that children get 4 doses of polio vaccine. Most adults do not need polio vaccine if already vaccinated as children.
ShinglesAdults 50 years and old should get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine), separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles
RabiesRabid dogs are commonly found in Namibia. Visitors should consider a rabies vaccination before their trip.
TyphoidRecommended for most travelers, especially those staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities or rural areas.
Yellow FeverRequired if traveling from a country with risk of YF virus transmission and ≥1 year of age, including transit >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YF virus transmission.
Hepatitis ARecommended for unvaccinated travelers one year old or older going to Namibia.
Hepatitis BRecommended for unvaccinated travelers of all ages to Namibia.
Meningococcal meningitisVisitors should consult with their local doctor on meningitis requirements and vaccines prior to their trip.

It is also recommended to ensure visitors are vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and meningococcal meningitis.

O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) near Johannesburg and Cape Town International (CPT) are two of the main entry points for visitors wondering how to arrive into South Africa to parks including Kruger National Park and Phinda Game Reserve.

Malaria risk

Understanding the best time to visit South Africa can be helpful when planning your park and reserve destination as well as knowing what the best things to do in South Africa are beyond safari wildlife tours.

Malaria and chikungunya are all present in South Africa, mainly transmitted along the border areas. Take measures to protect yourself including using mosquito netting, insect repellents and taking antimalarials (if recommended for your itinerary).

Malaria is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito and so the first line of defence is to protect yourself against mosquito bites. Malaria Prophylaxis may be prescribed to you during your consultation depending on your itinerary.

The CDC recommends that travellers take prescription medicine to prevent malaria.

Depending on the medicine you take, you will need to start taking this medicine multiple days before your trip, as well as during and after your trip. Talk to your doctor about which malaria medication and routine vaccines you should take.

Bite avoidance and counter measures are recommended. Visitors can check with a travel vaccinations medicine specialist to see if antimalarials should be considered to help prevent malaria contraction.

If travelling to a remote area away from medical facilities, it is recommended to carry standby emergency treatment.

South Africa health recommendations

Recommended visitor precautions

To help protect against mosquitoes, visitors should ensure to:

  • Apply mosquito repellents on clothes to avoid mosquito bites
  • Wear covered light clothing
  • Use mosquito nets on the windows of your accommodation and in vehicles, use the air conditioning

Depending on the areas visited, preventive antimalarial treatment should be considered.

Food and water precautions that should be observed:

  • Eat cooked food
  • Wash and peel fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid fresh fruit juices, ice creams, ice cubes, raw vegetables, reheated dishes
  • Consume pasteurized or boiled milk
  • Drink bottled or boiled water

Hygiene rules that should be followed:

  • Wash hands regularly, before and after each meal and after using the toilet
  • Don’t touch wild and stray animals to avoid animal bites and infection
  • Don’t swim in lakes and non-running water
  • Avoid any potentially contaminated food and water

Visitors with medical conditions should make tour guides and food catering aware of this in advance.

Useful vaccination information links

South Africa Covid 19 information

As of June 27th 2022, there are no longer any COVID‑19 entry restrictions for travel to South Africa. Passengers are no longer required to hold a COVID‑19 vaccination certificate or a COVID‑19 test result to enter the country. Quarantine restrictions have also been lifted.

Passengers arriving to South Africa must complete a “Traveller Health Questionnaire” upon arrival.

Passengers transiting through South Africa must follow the rules for their final destination.

Children and young people

Children below 12 years old are exempt from COVID 19 testing requirements. Carrying a small amount of South African currency, the rand (ZAR) can be useful when paying for smaller ticket items.

Travel from South Africa

Passengers are advised to arrive at the airport at least 4 hours before departure to complete all airport formalities.

All passengers are recommended to complete the Traveller Health Questionnaire (Exit screening) and present it at check in.

Departing passengers who are required to present a printed copy of a valid negative COVID 19 PCR test certificate (depending on their destination) with a QR code must receive the certificate from a government approved laboratory.

Check in will close promptly 60 minutes before departure to ensure on time departures.

Required documents

All passengers must complete the traveller health questionnaire before arrival and present it at check-in.

Useful Covid information links

FAQs

Are vaccines compulsory in South Africa?

There are both routine and strongly recommended vaccinations for South Africa.  A yellow fever vaccine is required if travelling from a country with a high risk of yellow fever transmission in order to gain entry to South Africa and other fully vaccinated jabs including Covid may be required.

What health precautions should I take to travel to South Africa?

To help protect against mosquitoes, visitors should apply insect repellents on clothing, wear covered light clothing and use mosquito nets on the windows of your accommodation.