Travelling to Africa: What do I need? Jabs, Vaccinations + More

With a trip to Africa (Sierra Leone) looming, and many things to organise, I thought I’d share with you everything that you’ll undeniably need to have in place if looking to travel to that side of the world.

Now, whilst the multiple jabs, never ending purchase list and weather queries ever daunting and exhausting, I’d like to remind you that it really isn’t as scary as one might first assume. With my easy tips listed below, you’ll be packed and ready to go to Africa in no time!

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It’s easy to book your flights and feel like you’re sorted, but when travelling far afield it’s now more important than ever to make sure you are vaccinated for your trip.

For my trip to Sierra Leone, I’ve already had my Hep A, Diptheria, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus, Cholera and Yellow Fever (This one is not covered on the NHS, but can be obtained for £70 at your local health centre. Please note that you must have this jab at least 10 days prior to departure, and as it is a live vaccine you may experience some mild flu-like symptoms.) Don’t be put off by the number of jabs. They are often combined into just 2-3 vaccinations so you won’t be leaving your surgery battered and bruised.

To find out what jabs you will need, I recommend using the Fit for Travel website to see what (if any) vaccinations you’ll need.

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Whilst there is no cure for malaria, there are tablets that can be taken for the prevention which can be obtained by your local doctor surgery. The tablets are to be taken 2 days before you leave and for a week after. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve got the all clear just because you’ve landed on home soil unscathed, make sure you’re on the ball with these for the whole week after your return to keep yourself out of the red zone.

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Do I need my Rabies Vac?

Having spoken in depth with my local doctor, I was strongly advised to go for my rabies vaccinnation. Whilst it is not supplied on the NHS, the small £60 fee really shouldn’t be contested when your health is at stake. When exploring destinations where sanitary conditions are poor and the streets are abundant with stray animals and dirt, you’re really putting yourself at risk on a daily basis. So, whilst it’s not vital, if you have any doubts at all, you might want to get this one ticked off.

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Bottled Water:

This is a MUST. Avoid drinking anything that isn’t bottled whilst you’re out there. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Umbrella/Rain Mac:

I know what you’re thinking; rain…in Africa?! Surprisingly, yes. During our summer months, it is also their rainy season, and in between scorching temperatures and blistering heat you may well find yourself running for cover as the heavens open. But don’t go packing your ski jackets either. It’s still going to be incredibly hot, and humidity high, so the lightest layer possible will do the trick!

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Dehydration is so common when exerting energy in hot countries. To make sure you’re drinking enough and your body is replenishing its water loss, carry with you electrolites such as Dioralyte to pop into your bottled drinking water whilst on the go.

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Diarrhoea Relief:

Not something to discuss in too much detail, but a dodgy tummy is something you should be preparing yourself for in advance. Stocking up on Imodium or something similar will save you during your time of need. With the change in climate, temperature and diet you’re body’s very likely to be in for a shock, so treat it kindly and don’t be embarrassed to bring it up if you’re feeling discomfort or unease. You won’t be alone.

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Mosquito Net:

Depending on where you’re going to be staying, you may be required to bring with you your own mosquito net. For as little as £15, you should be able to find yourself a good, stand alone net like this one to keep you safe in your sleep!

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Aside from these essentials, don’t forget your standard holiday must-haves. That includes suncream and lots of it, looking after your skin should never be taken for granted!

Have a safe trip!

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