#1 7-11-2017 2:03 PM

ellechic
New York, New York
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South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

Hi All -

I'm looking into what I need for my trip in Aug for South Africa and Namibia. Despite all my research and readings - I'm still unsure with certain things and would appreciate some validation on what I've read.

Vaccinations:

Hepatitis A - I do not develop antibodies for this so I was just told be extra careful on food/water safety and hygiene

Typhoid - recommended for travel; including South Africa and Namibia (I'm already scheduled to get this from my MD)

Malaria Pills (prophylaxis) - required for Namibia - will be taking it during my trip (how intolerable is this? Will I be sick throughout my trip taking malaria pills?)

Yellow Fever - not required for South Africa and Namibia (I will be visiting from Gariep River/ Fish River Canyon up to Namib Nat'l Park to  Etosha Nat'l Park and Windhoek) - based on the CDC guidelines, since I'll be coming from the South Africa and USA, I do not need the yellow fever vaccination - Is my understanding of this correct?

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinatio … single-001
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinatio … single-001

Visas:
I carry a US Passport. Based on the US Dept of State Travel Agency (https://travel.state.gov/content/passpo … frica.html) I do not need a visa for Namibia and South Africa - it will be issued on arrival.  Is my understanding of this correct?


Your input is much appreciated!

-Jenn

 

#2 7-11-2017 10:16 PM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

I have taken three of the major forms of antimalarial- malarone, Larium and doxycycline- and never had any side effects from any of them. Other people are not so lucky (although some people also blame the pills for the side effects of their first trip to the tropics- it's hard to tell if you have an upset tummy from doxy or an upset tummy from eating unfamiliar food). Anyway, one of the reasons you start taking antimalarials before you travel is that if you do have a reaction to one of them, you have the reaction in your home country and can stop. Overall, the one which most people have fewest problems with is malarone, but it's also the most expensive and you'd have to check if it even works in Namibia- not all antimalarials work everywhere. And doxy has the most reported side effects, although most of those are minor. But doxy is an antibiotic so it protects against some traveling infections too.

Many people on this site skip the antimalarials- I never would. But whatever one you take or don't take, you need to take steps to avoid bites. Partly just they are unpleasant- I've had way more miserable sleepless nights with the burn of mozzie bites than any drug side effect. But also the mozzies that carry Dengue fly in the daytime and there is no prophylaxis for that, there are a couple of other infections spread that way and tsetse flies carry sickness too. So use a DEET based spray and wear long clothing if you're on safari, and light colours as flies prefer dark colours. Insist on nets if you're away from the cities and check them for holes. Basically if I'm in rural Africa I dress like a small ginger Indiana jones.

Last edited by sarahelaine (7-12-2017 12:00 AM)

 

#3 7-11-2017 10:26 PM

harbinger
Cathy
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

Firstly, congratulations on your excellent choice of travel venue - Namibia is unbelievably spectacular, and you'll love it!

I have been lucky enough to travel to and work in Namibia on and off for the past 20 years, and in general, I would agree with the CDC guidelines, except on the issue of malaria.

Firstly, you're travelling in mid winter, which is the height of the dry season.  All the areas you are travelling to are semi/desert, and you'll be 'lucky' to see a mosquito.  If you were travelling to the malarial north of the country (Owamboland/Caprivi) - or travelling in summer - then it would be a different matter, but if Etosha is as far as you're going, then the malarial risk is negligible.

The key word is 'risk'.  If it were me, then I wouldn't be taking malarial prophylaxis with a risk that low, because it's pretty nasty stuff, but risk is a personal perception, and only you can decide what you are comfortable with.  You might also want to check your travel insurance to make sure whether you'd be covered for medical care if you contracted malaria and had not followed the CDC guidelines.

To catch malaria, you need to be bitten by an anopheles mosquito, and be near enough to a centre of population that the mozzie can transfer blood between an infected person and yourself.  Instead, I'd make sure that I took precautions to avoid getting bitten in the first place, but given that it will be cold in the evenings when the mozzies come out, you'll be wearing long sleeves and trousers anyway.

A word of caution if you decide to take prophylaxis and are prescribed doxy - it can undermine the effectiveness of oral contraception.  So although I am not suggesting that you are planning to bonk your way around Namibia, it could result in an unexpected holiday souvenir if you have a regular partner.

Just a last suggestion since we're talking about vaccinations.  It appears that you're an experienced traveller in the developing world, but for fear of stating the obvious, I'd make sure that your tetanus jab was up to date, as if you're roughing it, it's easy to cut yourself.

Enjoy!

Last edited by harbinger (7-11-2017 11:26 PM)

 

#4 7-11-2017 10:54 PM

stefmuts
Stefanie
Neerpelt, Belgium
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

You say you already sceduled to get the Typhoidvaccination so why not ask your MD about the vaccinations and malaria pills? He/She should know what you need. You Always have to be carefull with food and water in warm countries but I do know I've been vaccinated for Hepatitis A 
As for malaria pills: I never had problems with malaron and prophylaxis but everyone is different so you can only know for sure if you tried. You should bring (and use) repellant with deet, there are some other nasty things mosquitos can give you besides malaria
For visas needed you could contact the embassy of the countries you wish to visit
Have a nice trip!

 

#5 7-11-2017 11:16 PM

harbinger
Cathy
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

Sorry - forgot about the visas.  If you are travelling on a US passport and are planning to stay less than 90 days as a tourist, then you won't need a visa for either South Africa or Namibia.

 

#6 7-11-2017 11:25 PM

harbinger
Cathy
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

stefmuts wrote:

You say you already sceduled to get the Typhoidvaccination so why not ask your MD about the vaccinations and malaria pills? He/She should know what you need. You Always have to be carefull with food and water in warm countries but I do know I've been vaccinated for Hepatitis A

I agree that if you are travelling in the developing world, Hep A is a useful vaccination to have, and has a very long period of effectiveness (somewhere around 20 years).  But as you know you have an issue with this, then just observe caution with respect to hygiene - Namibian tourist facilities usually have reasonably high standards of cleanliness, but this could be an issue if - for example, you are going to hike the Fish River Canyon.

However, be careful in the assumption that an MD or general practitioner will be able to give you informed advice about travel medicine.  Most have little training in travel medicine, and will probably only consult the same websites that the informed traveller will consult (which often provide blanket generic recommendations for huge countries based on the risk profile of the highest risk area of that country). 

If you want detailed travel medicine guidance for travelling in a high risk region (which I would suggest Namibia is not), bite the bullet and go to a travel medicine specialist.

Last edited by harbinger (7-12-2017 12:17 AM)

 

#7 7-12-2017 1:04 AM

stefmuts
Stefanie
Neerpelt, Belgium
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

harbinger wrote:

However, be careful in the assumption that an MD or general practitioner will be able to give you informed advice about travel medicine.  Most have little training in travel medicine, and will probably only consult the same websites that the informed traveller will consult (which often provide blanket generic recommendations for huge countries based on the risk profile of the highest risk area of that country). 

If you want detailed travel medicine guidance for travelling in a high risk region (which I would suggest Namibia is not), bite the bullet and go to a travel medicine specialist.

Your right, a travel medicine specialist can give more specialized advice but since there is already a appointment with the MD sceduled it wont hurt to ask him/her

I use a Dutch website to check whats needed for what country (and the ask my MD, its not failsafe but then nothing is)
http://www.vaccinatiesopreis.nl/gele-koorts-landen/
With the help of google translate you'll figure it out (nb. SA and Namibia are not on the risk list)

 

#8 7-12-2017 1:43 AM

harbinger
Cathy
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

stefmuts wrote:

Your right, a travel medicine specialist can give more specialized advice but since there is already a appointment with the MD sceduled it wont hurt to ask him/her

I quite agree, stefmuts, and I didn't mean to imply criticism of you.
However, overseeing travel medication has been part of my job for the last seven or eight years, and you wouldn't believe what halfbaked advice I've seen GPs/MDs give, and how much unnecessary malarial medication I've seen prescribed in the dry season for desert/arid areas. 
The rainy season is entirely a different matter, and having had cerebral malaria myself (which, I might add, I caught in West Africa whilst religiously taking my malarial meds), I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

 

#9 7-12-2017 4:43 PM

ellechic
New York, New York
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

Thanks for your help, sarahelaine and harbinger -

I have talked to my MD about the vaccinations and her decision to give me thypoid vaccination and malaria pills are based on the CDC guidelines (which is what I've read.) As for the malaria prophylaxis, the tour company (as per their dossier) also require us to take malaria prophylaxis (i was hoping to not need to take it but I guess better safe than sorry - ugh!).

Last edited by ellechic (7-12-2017 4:45 PM)

 

#10 7-12-2017 11:50 PM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

ellechic wrote:

As for the malaria prophylaxis, the tour company (as per their dossier) also require us to take malaria prophylaxis (i was hoping to not need to take it but I guess better safe than sorry - ugh!).

I suspect that the dossier has been developed for tours year round, and thus the requirement has resulted from the risk in the rainy summer season.
If those are the rules, then those are the rules ... as they say, "T&Cs apply" smile

 

#11 9-1-2017 11:21 AM

Capermel
Melissa
Manitoba, Canada
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

I wouldn't take the malaria pills, but to each their own. I have been to both countries and others with higher risks of malaria and I was fine. My experience is the pills are far worse then the disease and I hear this from many other travelers. Wear bug spray and sleep under a net you will be fine. I've literally been paralyzed from those pills and have had a friend slip into a coma. Never again haha
I have my yellow fever vaccine which I got for Rwanda. I wouldn't get it unless it is absolutely necessary to travel within the country. Again, it is a personal choice.

I hold a Canadian passport and much like you I don't need visas to enter many countries. I never was asked for a visa in S.Africa or Namibia. In fact Namibia just opened my passport, looked at it, didn't stamp it and sent me on my way. You will be fine smile

ENJOY YOUR TRAVELs !!!

 

#12 9-1-2017 11:37 PM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Re: South Africa & Namibia - Vaccinations and Visas

Taking the pills or not is a personal choice but they are not often "worse that the disease"- in its mild form it feels like severe flu, which is worse than I've ever had off the three types of antimalarials I've had. And my husband regularly treats people, including young previously healthy people, who come back from holidays with the real deal- sepsis and organ failure included. Which I am not saying to twist anyone's arm on the pills. It's just common to pretend malaria is no big deal, which it is- it's at best very unpleasant. So whether or not you take the pills, take fevers seriously for at least two weeks after your return and if you develop a fever go to the hospital- not your family practitioner/GP- and demand a malarial screen. 64 or so Brits die of malaria a year, and more get severe problems, and it's not a bit of a cold.

Last edited by sarahelaine (9-1-2017 11:38 PM)

 

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