Get a full list of the vaccines you need for South Africa, and learn about the risk of diseases and the best ways to protect yourself while away.

Vaccinations for
South Africa

South Africa is a popular tourist destination with a varied climate. The rainy season for most of the country falls during the winter months between October and March. There is a risk of mosquito- and water-borne diseases present throughout the country. Medical care is accessible and of a high quality throughout the country.


01. What vaccinations do I need for South Africa?

The following list of vaccines are the official recommendations for travel to South Africa. Which vaccines you need will depend on a variety of factors, including your medical history and the details of your trip.

Book an appointment online to get vaccinated at your local pharmacy. If you are unsure as to which vaccinations you require, book a free phone consultation with one of our medical advisors. They will provide you with a personal vaccine plan.

Most travellers

Diphtheria, tetanus and polio

Anytime before arrival

Typhoid

2 weeks before arrival

Hepatitis A

Anytime before arrival

Some travellers

Rabies

3 weeks before arrival*

Hepatitis B

4 weeks before arrival*

Cholera

2 weeks before arrival

02. Malaria

Is there a risk of malaria in South Africa?

There is a risk of malaria in many parts of South Africa throughout the year, particularly between September and May.

Risk of malaria transmission is especially high in the northeastern regions of the county along the border with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Low altitude areas of the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces have a risk of transmission. The KwaZulu-natal province also has a low risk of malaria transmission. There is a very low risk of transmission in the North West province and Northern Cape Province.

Read more

03. Other health risks

There are food and water related risks for all travellers going to South Africa. Travellers diarrhoea, typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera, can all be transmitted through contaminated food and water.

Some diseases which are prevalent in South Africa cannot be prevented with a vaccine, particularly mosquito-borne illnesses which can cause serious complications, and sometimes even be fatal.

COVID-19

Can I travel to South Africa?

South Africa is one of the UK red list travel ban countries. If you have UK residence rights, you will be required to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days. See the UK government website for more information.

When will I be able to travel to South Africa?

It is difficult to know when international travel will be possible. Find out more about when you can travel again.

What are the travel restrictions in South Africa?

Travellers arriving in South Africa must present a valid COVID-19 test result no older than 72 hrs.

Be sure that you:

Insect and tick-borne diseases

There is a risk of a variety of insect and tick-borne diseases in South Africa, including African tick-bite fever, chikungunya, west Nile virus and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever. The risk is present throughout the country, especially in tall grass in rural areas where ticks do hide, and highest near livestock or wild animals.

Cases of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, an animal disease that can spread to humans in contact with livestock, have been reported in Northern Cape and North West.

The risk of chikungunya and west Nile virus, both transmitted by mosquito bites, are highest in forested areas in early morning or late afternoon, especially from October to April.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, a disease found in contaminated freshwater infested with infected snails sometimes causing itchy skin, is widespread in South Africa.

The affected regions include KwaZulu-Natal Province, along the coast into Eastern Cape Province to the area of Port St. Johns, the province of Limpopo (including Kruger National Park) from the Limpopo River basin to the northern part of the Witwatersrand mountains, Marico, Swartruggens and Rustenburg district, more specifically in Koster, Wolmaransstad and Bloemhof on the Vaal River and in Piet-Retief district (Mpumalanga Province).

Zika

Is there a risk of Zika in South Africa?

There has been no recorded transmission of Zika in South Africa, and risk in the country is very low.

Dengue

Is there a risk of dengue in South Africa?

There is currently no risk of dengue in South Africa, however, it is important to be aware of outbreaks and avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

04. Risk areas

Depending on the activities of travellers and length of stay, the following areas can carry the risk of certain diseases. Book a free consultation for specific advice on which diseases you may be at risk of during your travels.

Kruger National Park

There is a risk of malaria in the Kruger National Park, particularly from September to May. Schistosomiasis is also a risk in the Kruger National Park, and travellers are advised to avoid swimming in bodies of freshwater there.

Urban areas

There is no risk of malaria in the cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

05. Precautions

Mosquitoes

Some mosquito-borne illnesses cannot be prevented by a vaccine or medication, so it is therefore essential that you take the right precautions to avoid getting bitten during your stay in South Africa.

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Insects and ticks

There is a risk of a variety of insect and tick-borne diseases, such as african tick-bite fever, chikungunya, west nile virus and crimean-congo haemorrhagic fever in South Africa.

As the risk is widespread throughout the country, in the presence of various animals and insects, it is highly recommended to take consistent precautions to avoid insect bites.

Read more

Freshwater

There is currently a risk of contracting infections from infested freshwater areas in South Africa, notably schistosomiasis.

The World Health Organization reports cases of schistosomiasis in the country in 2012. As there is a risk of freshwater diseases present throughout the country, it is recommended to avoid bathing in freshwater pools and/or practice precautions if you travel to such areas.

Read more

Food and water

If you are visiting friends or relatives in India or are a long-stay traveller, you are at increased risk of consuming contaminated food and drinks, and you should therefore be extra careful.

Read more

06. Healthcare in South Africa

Is healthcare in South Africa good?

South Africa boasts the best medical care on the continent. There is an excellent standard of healthcare across the country, particularly in big cities.

It is essential that you get health insurance for your trip to South Africa.

Useful contacts

The British High Commission, Pretoria The British High Commission in Pretoria can assist you, if you are in need of urgent help. You can call them on +27 12 421 7500.

The British Consulate General Cape Town The British Consulate General Cape Town can also assist you, if you are in need of urgent help on +27 21 405 2400.

Local emergency medical services If you need urgent medical assistance while you are in South Africa, you can call the emergency number +27 10177. You can also call +27 112, which will connect you to a call centre and an automated menu, that will connect you to the medical and emergency help you need.

Medical facilities and practitioners If you get ill while you are in South Africa, and need to see a doctor, it is important that you choose a reputable medical facility. For this, you can refer to a list of English-speaking medical facilities and practitioners in South Africa provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

07. How to book your travel vaccinations

If you already know which vaccinations you need, you can book a vaccination appointment at your local pharmacy.

If you would like to discuss your specific requirements with a medical advisor, book a free telephone consultation. A Practio nurse will give an individual assessment of your needs and recommend a suitable vaccination programme.

08. Travel checklist for your trip to South Africa

  • Check if you need vaccinations Book an appointment at your local pharmacy at least 6 to 8 weeks before travel to get vaccinated

  • Yellow fever certificate Verify the specific entry requirements concerning yellow fever certificates necessary for South Africa and whether they apply to you

  • Mosquito protection Bring everything needed to avoid mosquito bites while in South Africa, including DEET insect repellent

  • Travel insurance If you become ill in South Africa and did not receive the right vaccinations before you left, your travel insurance can become void. So, make sure to check before you leave

  • Note useful contact numbers In the case of an emergency, have a list of useful contacts to take with you to South Africa

Content reviewed by

Fuad Hussain, Pharmacist Prescriber
01 February 2021

Related articles

How to prevent food and waterborne diseases

Do you often get diarrhoea while travelling? You may have had contaminated food or water, which can also cause food- and waterborne diseases.

How to prevent tick bites

Whether you are a city or an outdoor traveller, you may be at risk of tick bites. So, check the risk on your destination and prevent tick bites while away.