Is yellow fever vaccine required for a trip to Kenya?

Kenya is a beautiful place full of culture. It offers busy city life, beaches and amazing wildlife with annual animal migrations and views in superb national reserves. Whilst being a very popular travel destination, there is a risk of yellow fever transmission in some parts of Kenya and you may need a yellow fever certificates for your trip.

It depends upon where you are travelling from and what part of Kenya you are visiting.

The maps below of South America and Africa, show the areas which are affected by yellow fever. If you are travelling from one of these areas into Kenya, then you will need to be vaccinated for yellow fever and carry with you a yellow fever certificate. Bear in mind that the Yellow Fever certificate is only valid 10 days after your vaccination but is then valid for life.

Reference: 2017  https://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/maps/index.html

Kenya is a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. You will see from the map above that over half of Kenya is in the “vaccination recommended” area published by the WHO, whilst the right hand side of Kenya is labelled as “vaccination generally not recommended”.

If you are a UK citizen taking a trip to Kenya, whether you need a yellow fever vaccine depends upon what area of Kenya you are visiting and what activities you will be taking part in there.

Your local travel clinic will be able to advice you whilst considering any other health factors you may have. Some people may not be able to have the vaccine if there is a risk that it may make them unwell.

Is Yellow fever a vaccine that is free on the NHS?

In the UK, yellow fever is not a vaccine that you can receive free through the NHS. You will need to arrange a visit with a private travel clinic a couple of months before your trip. The yellow fever vaccine typically costs around £60-£90 per dose and one dose provides lifelong protection.

Can I travel immediately after my yellow fever vaccination?

You should be vaccinated at least 10 days before your trip to allow enough time for the vaccine to work and for your certificate to be valid.

What other vaccines may I need to consider for my trip?

All visitors to Kenya need to be vaccinated against Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Typhoid, so make sure that you check you are up to date and take any boosters or vaccinations that are necessary.

Depending upon the areas that you plan to visit and the activities that you plan to do, you may also require Hepatitis B, meningitis, rabies and for some area, Cholera.

You can check out your vaccination requirements here. Make sure you get travel advice 6-8 weeks before your trip from a travel clinic expert who will confirm what you will need.

Malaria is prevalent in most parts of Kenya, including the entire coast and most safari destinations. It cannot be vaccinated against, so you will require antimalarial medication to protect yourself.  Either atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline or mefloquine is usually advised for those visiting risk areas in Kenya, you just need to check with your travel clinic to find out what is best for you and make sure that you take the complete course of medication.

Where can I find out about health news updates before my trip?

It is always useful to check out the information from National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), they supply country specific information about any current health risks or outbreaks for your chosen destination.

Other ways to protect my health in Kenya

Other things you may want to plan into your trip to protect your health would be to make sure you have access to clean water and ensure food is cooked in a hygienic way. Contaminated food and drink spreads disease and illness. Use DEET insect repellent regularly and covering up your skin to help protect you from insect bites and ticks that may cause infection. Protect yourself from the sun with a good sunscreen and hat. And finally, make sure you take out travel and health insurance to that you are not left with a hefty bill if things don’t go to plan.

Happy planning and bon voyage!

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