Medical Q&As

Travel vaccines - Africa?

I am planning to go to Africa on my summer holidays. When should I get vaccinated for this trip and where do I go to get vaccinated?

You say that you are travelling to Africa this summer therefore you should make arrangements to be vaccinated in the near future. Far too many people leave holiday vaccinations to the last minute, which is not ideal. If you leave vaccination to the last minute you may not be sufficiently protected in the early days of your visit. The immune system does not respond instantaneously to vaccination and it may take several days before the body has mounted an adequate immune response. Also, if you need to receive several vaccines at the last minute you could have a minor reaction to the vaccines, which could mar the start of your holiday. Such reactions could include inflammation at the injection site or a short-lived minor episode of aches and pains accompanied by a rise in body temperature. Although these reactions are not serious they are not uncommon and it is probably best to ensure that you have fully completed the necessary course of vaccines a couple of weeks before your date of departure. Since you are travelling to Africa it is likely that you will need to take prophylactic medication against malaria. It is necessary to commence taking such medication before departure so that there is sufficient medication in your blood before you arrive in the endemic area. You might like to draw up an itinerary of the countries you wish to visit and find out from our travel vaccine calculator, which vaccines are recommended for the countries you intend to visit. You can access that information through the following link: Some GPs have a special interest in travel vaccination so you could check with your own GP to establish if the vaccines can be given at your local surgery. Alternatively there are several travel vaccine clinics in existence and these are listed under vaccination centres in the Golden Pages telephone directory.