What Vaccinations do I Need to Travel to South Africa?

Travelers planning to go to South Africa should visit their doctor at least 6 weeks before setting off to ask for the necessary vaccinations. This allows plenty of time to get the necessary vaccinations for South Africa as sometimes two doses are required, weeks apart.

There are no compulsory vaccinations for South Africa though there are a number of recommended ones. A yellow fever vaccination is sometimes required for travelers coming from endemic zones in the Americas and Africa. Passengers on flights which come from non-infected areas are not required to have yellow fever certificates.

This guide will explain the routine vaccinations for South Africa (which are recommended for most countries) as well some which are specific to South Africa. In addition to making sure you get your vaccinations with plenty of time to spare, make sure you allow plenty of time for your South Africa Visa application to be processed.

Routine Vaccinations for South Africa

The following vaccinations for South Africa are considered routine:

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR): Normally given routinely to children. A one-time adult booster is recommended.
  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (TDAP): Only one adult booster of pertussis is required though the other two are needed every 10 years.
  • Chickenpox: Given to adults who have never had chickenpox.
  • Shingles: The vaccine is still necessary sometimes even for people who have had shingles.
  • Pneumonia: Two vaccinations are given separately. Anyone over 65 should get both.
  • Influenza: The vaccine components change annually to adapt to the genetic mutations of the virus.
  • Meningitis: Given to anyone unvaccinated or who is at an increased risk (such as students).
  • Polio: A single adult booster is recommended and it’s considered routine for most travel itineraries.

Recommended Travel Vaccinations for South Africa

The following vaccinations for South Africa are not always necessary but they’re recommended (especially for certain groups which are at risk).

  • Hepatitis A: Can be caught through food and water. The vaccine is recommended for most visitors.

Hepatitis B: Visitors can catch hepatitis B through sexual contact and contaminated needles. It is recommended to get this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner or plan to get a piercing or tattoo.

  • Typhoid: Vaccines last 2 years, oral vaccines last 5 years.
  • Cholera: Recommended for most regions of South Africa.
  • Yellow fever: Required for travelers coming from countries where yellow fever is prevalent.
  • Rabies: Recommended for travelers who plan to spend a long time in South Africa and people who will come into contact with animals.

Other Health Advice for South Africa

Hospitals and clinics expect cash payments in advance before they provide any healthcare. To avoid complications it is best to have a medical insurer who makes payments directly to healthcare providers. There are generally good medical facilities in the cities but they are harder to find in rural areas.

Malaria is a risk in some regions of South Africa. There is no malaria vaccination available but there are a number of different types of medication (though they have side effects). Mosquito nets and repellent can also reduce the risk of malaria. There have also been occasional outbreaks of cholera in recent years. Travelers can reduce by taking precautions with food and water.