Are you going on a safari to Kenya? Prepare for an amazing experience of wildlife, beautiful landscapes and exciting culture. But first things first – what vaccines are required when traveling to Kenya? Finding out as much health information as you can is vital if you want to have an enjoyable vacation without the threat of diseases avoidable with a vaccine.
The first thing is to make sure is that you’re up-to-date on all the routine vaccinations. Apart from that, all travelers coming from regions prone to yellow fever will be required to have a yellow fever vaccine certificate on them before being allowed entry into Kenya.
Travel Vaccinations for Kenya
There’s a considerable risk of tropical diseases in East Africa. Before going on your trip, include a visit to your nearest travel health clinic in your preparations. The health practitioner will conduct a questionnaire to determine which vaccinations and precautions you need.
For a visit to Kenya, there are two types of vaccines that you’ll need to consider: compulsory and recommended vaccinations. Let’s dive deeper into each of these and see what you’ll need.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory visitors traveling to Kenya. If you’re planning to transit between Kenya and other Eastern Africa countries, the yellow fever vaccination certificate will probably be a requirement at the points of entry and exit.
The reason why you need this vaccination is that yellow fever is endemic in some parts of this country. Aedes Aegypti, the specific mosquito that transmits the disease is common in some parts of the country.
There are cases that are may be exempt from this vaccination. For instance, if you’re only traveling to Mombasa, North Eastern province, Nairobi and general parts of the coast province, the vaccine may not be compulsory to you.
However, you’ll still need to take serious measures to prevent mosquito bites while traveling in this areas of Kenya. As a general precaution, therefore, it is important to get the vaccination even if you’ve planned a trip to the excluded areas.
Note that all travelers who are aged at least 1 year and above will be required to produce the vaccination certificate at the airport or other point of entry into Kenya. The check is even more focused on all visitors coming from countries and regions with a high risk of yellow fever transmission.
In the Americas, for example, these countries include Panama, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela among others.
You may be coming from a country without the risk of the disease, but, if you’ve transited transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission, you’ll be considered to be carrying the risk of transmitting the disease. Authorities may request you to undergo a vaccination at the airport before being allowed entry into the country.
Is your yellow fever vaccination certificate valid?
Previously, you’d be required to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate that was valid, otherwise a booster dose would suffice for entry into countries that checked for the certificate.
However, you do not need to worry about that anymore. The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, declared that all yellow fever vaccinations are valid for life.
“Thus, from 11 July 2016 the certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is valid for the life of the person vaccinated. This lifetime validity applies automatically to all existing and new certificates, beginning 10 days after the date of vaccination. Accordingly, as of 11 July 2016, revaccination or a booster dose of yellow fever vaccine will not be required for international travellers as a condition” – W.H.O.
Strongly Recommended Vaccinations
Apart from protecting yourself against tropical diseases, it is important for any traveler to obtain vaccinations that are generally categorized as ‘recommended’. A disease like typhoid, for example, is common worldwide and is easily transmitted through food contamination. Getting a vaccine for such a disease is vital for anyone who’s planning to travel to a foreign country.
Here’s a list of diseases for which vaccinations are strongly recommended when traveling to Kenya.
- Rabies: According to the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, rabies is common in almost all countries in the world except those in the Antarctica. Most rabies infections take place in Africa and Asia. It is important you get a rabies vaccination especially if you’re visiting Kenya for a safari.
- Hepatitis A and B: Hepatitis is easily transmitted through contamination. Most travelers are at a risk of undergoing a medical procedure or check especially when their trips are long. The CDC recommends getting vaccines for both Hepatitis A and B when traveling to Kenya.
- Typhoid: Like malaria, typhoid is prevalent in Kenya. It is transmitted through contaminated food and water. The typhoid vaccine is recommended for adventurous eaters and tourists planning to traverse the country.
- Cholera: Cases of cholera have been reported in Kenya in the past few years. Anyone traveling to the country as a tourist, humanitarian or health practitioner is strongly advised to get a cholera vaccine.
- Malaria: Malaria is prevalent in the western and coastal regions of Kenya. However, all regions are prone to malarial infections. Before visiting, ensure you take a dose of anti-malarial medication to prevent infection.
- Meningitis: The meningococcal disease is highly infectious and prevalent in the Middle East and Africa. The vaccine you’ll get for this will protect you against meningitis for 5 years.
- Measles: The CDC reports that most cases of measles in the United States result from traveling in countries where there are cases of the disease. While the country has implemented vaccination schedules to eradicate the disease, it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones by getting the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before traveling to Kenya.
- Polio: Kenya last reported polio cases in 2013 when a large wild polio virus outbreak in Somalia led to an eventual importation of 14 cases to the country. In the past eight years, fresh outbreaks of polio have been reported in Kenya and a few neighboring countries including Somalia and South Sudan. If you’re traveling to Kenya as a health worker or a humanitarian, you are at a high risk of contracting polio. Ensure you get a polio vaccine beforehand.
When you get the yellow fever shot, you’ll be given a small yellow booklet. This is your certificate of proof that you’ve had the vaccination. The authorities will want to see which vaccinations you’ve had. Without the yellow document, you may be required to undergo another vaccination before being allowed to proceed on your visit to Kenya.