South Africa travel vaccination information

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Information & Advice

South Africa travel vaccination information

South Africa is a marvellously diverse country with a rich cultural heritage and wonderful wildlife. It’s also a country which is home to a number of diseases which we wouldn’t ordinarily encounter here in the UK.

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Travel health advice for South Africa

South Africa is a marvellously diverse country with a rich cultural heritage and wonderful wildlife. It's also a country which is home to a number of diseases which we wouldn't ordinarily encounter here in the UK.

If you're travelling to South Africa you're bound to be excited about the adventure of a lifetime and you should seek advice about vaccinations you can consider to help you stay healthy on your trip.

Diseases in South Africa

Below are some of the diseases you may need protection against when you're in South Africa.


There is a risk of malaria in the low altitude parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo between September and May, this includes Kruger National Park. There is a low risk in the northeast KwaZula-Natal and its surrounding areas.

Malaria is a blood infection which can be fatal. It's transmitted by mosquitoes, so it's best to avoid being bitten by taking steps like using insect repellent and mosquito nets.

Anti-malarial tablets may be recommended to you depending on your travel plans. Our pharmacist will help you work out if you need anti-malarial tablets and which ones are suitable for you.

Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes and can be fatal in some people, but there is no risk in South Africa.

However, you'll need a certificate proving you've had a vaccination if you are travelling to South Africa from a country where yellow fever exists or you have spent over 12 hours at an airport located in a country with a risk of yellow fever.

Your pharmacist will give you the latest advice for your trip.


Rabies is a serious viral infection which affects the nervous system and is almost always fatal unless treated early.

It's passed onto humans when broken skin comes into contact with the saliva of an infected domestic or wild animal. The most commonly infected animals are dogs. Bats may also carry the virus in South Africa. You are at a higher risk in remote areas where access to medical care may be limited.


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread through poor sanitation. Symptoms include stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Those at increased risk are travellers visiting friends and relatives. All travellers are advised to maintain good personal, food and water hygiene measures.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is viral liver infection caught from contaminated food and water. The risk is higher in areas with poor sanitation, so taking steps like washing your hands after using the toilet is important.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral liver disease spread through infected blood and other bodily fluids. The risk is higher for certain people, like those having unprotected sex and those participating in contact sports.


Cholera is a bacterial infection which can cause watery diarrhoea. It is transmitted through eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water. Travellers are advised to maintain good personal, food and water hygiene measures.


A persistent cough is typical of tuberculosis (TB), which is spread in a similar way to colds and flu.

Travellers in South Africa are advised to avoid close contact with those suffering with infectious pulmonary TB.


Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria and can lead to the tightening of muscles in the body which can affect swallowing and breathing. If you've not had a tetanus dose in the last 10 years then a booster dose may be advised.

Let Boots help

Getting vaccinated can help prevent you from becoming ill if you are exposed to these diseases. Our pharmacists will help you understand the factors that increase your risk and can help you work out which vaccinations to get depending on things like:

  • Which regions you are visiting
  • What activities you are doing
  • Your age and general health

You can use our quick check tool to get a list of diseases that may be present in the country and vaccinations to consider for your destination.

Quick check tool

We recommend booking an appointment with a Boots pharmacist six to eight weeks before you travel. However, even if time is short, we can still help you with options to consider.

Book an appointment

Childhood immunisations

No matter where you are travelling to, it's recommended your childhood immunisations are up to date for:

  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio

NHS vaccinations

Vaccinations for the following conditions are usually available free on the NHS:

  • Cholera, Diphtheria, Polio & Tetanus booster, Hepatitis A & Typhoid

These vaccinations protect against diseases which are considered to be the greatest risk to public health if they were brought into the country.

Find out more

  • Our partner sites

  • Boots WebMD Macmillan