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Immunizations before your trip to Tanzania

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As you begin planning the trip to Tanzania, you may question if you need to obtain immunization against specific diseases common in Africa. This feature covers the issues crucial for Tanzania: what vaccinations are obligatory and what must be made for the first time or renewed. But, first, a reminder to cover your bases: Zanzibar archipelago, a popular tourist destination, is a part of Tanzania.    

Mandatory Immunizations for Entering Tanzania and Zanzibar  

Contrary to what first-time travelers think, no special vaccinations are required for those entering Tanzania from the USA, the UK, European Union or most countries around the globe. You must present a certificate of immunization against COVID-19 if you are vaccinated. If you are not immunized, a negative PCR test is equally appropriate. In this case it is a prerequisite that the PCR test is performed no earlier than 72 hours before arrival in Tanzania.  

Thus, there are no mandatory vaccinations before traveling to Tanzania. There are also no diseases specific to Tanzania that are dangerous for tourists.

There are still the risks of catching infections specific to this region when you plan a long stay in the country in spots where disease-transmitting mosquitoes are present or when you plan to travel through several countries in Africa besides Tanzania. Most often, this is true for those who plan to live and work in Tanzania. For tourists coming for safari, mountain climbing, or beach holidays, getting vaccinated is a recommendation.

Recommended Vaccinations

Below is the valuable information to be considered by those taking active care of themselves and wanting to minimize the risks while traveling.  

Standard Immunizations 

As you're wondering how to protect yourself while traveling to a foreign country, it's likely that you've already received all of the most required vaccinations. The standard list of diseases against which all tourists are recommended to get vaccinated includes tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B. The list always has the potential to expand depending on your experience with medical issues. 

Tetanus is believed to be more common in countries near the equator. According to WHO, or the World Health Organization, is an international U.N. organization with the primary goal of working toward a healthier future for the world's population. WHO works with national health ministries to set standards and make international recommendations. The main achievements of WHO are the eradication of smallpox, successful campaigns against malaria and other diseases. statistics, Tanzania is among the countries with the lowest incidence of tetanus  ("rare, very few cases" status). The combined DPT vaccine against pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus is often used for prevention. It is recommended that adults get revaccination against the latter two diseases every ten years.

Hepatitis A virus most often enters the human body from eating or drinking contaminated water. The former is excluded by the observance of personal hygiene rules, the latter is relevant for most countries in Africa, including Tanzania - we strongly recommend drinking only bottled water during the trip. Hepatitis B virus enters with the biological fluids of the infected person. In most countries with a well-developed health care system, you can get a vaccination against both hepatitis types.

The above diseases pose danger to tourists in Tanzania to the same extent as in their home country. Theoretically, it is equally possible to injure oneself and get the wound infected during a regular walk in the park near your house as well as on an expedition in Tanzania. What poses increased risk is dirty water. By the way, all participants of Altezza Travel expeditions are provided with bottled drinking water.

Additional Advice

When it comes to extended recommendations, there are a few additional standard vaccines that are part of the national immunization calendars. For example, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, is the U.S. national public health institute that is involved in global health programs around the world. We refer to the CDC because it has the most available and comprehensive data on infectious and chronic diseases in various countries, as well as evidence-based recommendations. recommends that travelers to Tanzania make sure they are vaccinated against diseases such as chickenpox, pertussis-diphtheria-tetanus, influenza, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, and shingles before they travel. Most of these vaccinations are given when you are a child.

You can also protect yourself against typhoid, which can be contracted through poor hygiene associated with water, food, or contaminated surfaces. The CDC recommends this vaccination for those who plan to travel alone, live in rural areas, and eat outside hotels in places with poor sanitation. In addition, those planning to come into contact with wild animals (especially dogs) are advised to get vaccinated against rabies beforehand.

There are a few more diseases that the visitors to Tanzania should keep in mind such as COVID-19, malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. All of these are mentioned, for example, on the website of the US Embassy in Tanzania. Not all of them can be prevented with vaccines, but we would like to mention each of them particularly because these diseases cause the most questions and fears among travelers.

COVID-19

Tanzania is taking all possible measures to prevent new outbreaks and stop the virus from entering the country. For this purpose, everyone arriving in the country has to show either a vaccination certificate on immunixzation with a WHO- or Tanzania-approved vaccine  or an up-to-date negative PCR test certificate. In many public places such as airports, masks and antiseptics are used as well as other WHO-recommended measures. A certain proportion of Tanzania's population is vaccinated, with several vaccines approved in the country.

In addition, all employees of Altezza Travel are vaccinated against COVID-19, and our hotels are regularly disinfected. Since a negative test result or a vaccination certificate is required upon entry to Tanzania, the likelihood of encountering an infected person in a climbing group or on a safari is almost nil.

Nevertheless, we recommend traveling with a reliable COVID-19 vaccination as the most significant risks are associated with flights in confined spaces on airplanes. Also, consider the poor collection of statistics specific to all African countries. According to WHO, there are currently six variations of omicron strain spreading around the world.

The number of tests conducted in African countries is not comparable to those in Europe, so no one can speak confidently about exact numbers describing the situation in detail. However, it is true of almost all countries.

Malaria

Proven effective vaccines against malaria do not yet exist. There are only medicines that, in some cases, should be taken before and during travel. But before taking any anti-malaria medication, it is recommended to consult with your doctor because the non-prescription use of drugs can be harmful. Do not disregard allergic reactions to various components of medicines, the individual characteristics of the body and the current status of your health, and the need to consult with doctors who have the latest information.

Malaria is caused by parasites living in female malaria mosquitoes' bodies. To be fair, nowadays they live on all continents. They are more common in tropical regions but inhabit mainly lowland, swampy and wooded areas. The main conditions for the successful reproduction of dangerous malaria mosquitoes are standing water, windless areas, and a constant temperature above 20 °C.

Malaria risks are minimal for tourists coming to Tanzania for high-altitude climbing and safaris. The highest probability of contact with infected mosquitoes is theoretically possible in hotels close to swamps, but there are no such hotels in Altezza Travel safari programs. Besides, all the hotels used to accommodate our guests are equipped with mosquito nets. The use of nets and canopies, clothes covering the body and mosquito repellents in the early morning and late evening hours when mosquitos are most active - these are the basic and most efficient recommendations for travelers who are concerned about mosquito bites.

Find some more details on personal prophylactics of malaria in this article

According to the CDC, malaria ranks seventh on the list of death causes in the country. Most of the CDC-reported deaths are among poor local populations, primarily children with immune deficiencies from rural areas with nearby swamps. In general, since the late 1990s, Tanzania has been working on malaria prevention, which yields results - the mortality from malaria is significantly reduced among infants and pregnant women, that is, the most vulnerable groups of the population.

In almost 10 years of living and working at the foot of Kilimanjaro, none of our team has ever suffered from malaria.

Dengue Fever

A few foreign countries’ embassies in Tanzania have found it necessary to warn travelers about seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever on the islands of Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by certain species of mosquitoes. This disease is dangerous because it occasionally leads to a complication called severe dengue. WHO notes that severe dengue is primarily found in some countries in Asia and Latin America, adding that outbreaks of common dengue have also been reported in Europe.

Those species of mosquitoes that can be vectors of infection breed in artificial containers of water that are stored for long periods as supplies. Altezza Travel does not store any water supplies in this way, nor do we see anything like that at the partners whose hotels we recommend for our guests' accommodation.

The only prevention is to control the mosquito vectors. Vaccines against dengue fever, as well as against malaria, are under development. For individual prevention, the same recommendations are given for dengue as for malaria - the use of tight long-sleeved clothing, repellents and fumigators in the morning and evening hours, and mosquito nets on windows and canopies over beds.

No member of the Altezza Travel team has ever encountered dengue fever or malaria. In this case, our job is simply to inform you about the possible risks and give you the best advice to protect your health.

Tsetse Disease 

Although the tsetse disease (African trypanosomiasis) is not specifically mentioned by any organization providing health advice to travelers headed for Tanzania, we would like to focus on this disease as raises too many fears and questions.

The tsetse disease, otherwise known as sleeping dropsy, is the result of encountering parasites called trypanosomes which are most commonly infect a human through the host tsetse flies. These live in warm, humid places, such as river banks or spots near undrained water bodies, mostly in wooded areas or in areas where trees are cut down. The risk group includes dwellers of villages and those employed in such professions as loggers, road builders, fishermen, etc. Transmission of parasites can also occur through exchanging contaminated body fluids with another person.

It is important to remember that there are two subspecies of the pathogen dangerous to humans in Africa: Trypanosoma brucei gambiense in West and Central Africa and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense in South and East Africa (the latter region is where Tanzania is located). According to WHO, the former causes 97% of cases, while the latter causes the remaining 3%. WHO counts Tanzania among the countries that have detected only 1 to 10 new cases per year in recent years.

Remarkably, in the past, Tanzania’s experience in preventive control of tsetse flies in Zanzibar was so successful that it was adopted by other countries.

Although there is no vaccine against sleeping dropsy, travelers should not fear it, based on the information we have about the disease. Tsetse disease is not relevant to Tanzania.

Yellow Fever 

Finally, a something to share about the queen of fears for travelers to Africa, which many people write and ask about, a viral disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, that is called yellow fever.

This disease is not common in Tanzania. The Tanzanian Ministry of Health takes the most stringent measures to prevent the entry of the virus from abroad. In particular, the authorities require a certificate of vaccination for those entering from yellow fever endemic countries. If you arrive from the United States, or any European country, you do not have to be vaccinated.

If your trip includes one of the countries endemic to yellow fever, you will be asked for a certificate of vaccination upon entry to Tanzania. Tanzania is surrounded to the north and west by countries where yellow fever cases are more or less common, such as neighboring Less than 30 cases per 100,000 population are reported for Kenya and less than 13 cases per the same 100,000 population for Uganda, the lowest among all countries. These data are found by searching specialized medical databases from 1975 to 2020 and are published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Infectious Diseases in October 2021. Rwanda, Burundi, and the  Democratic Republic of Congo - so keep it in mind when planning your trip. For a complete list of endemic countries, consult the link here

The only exception allowing you to skip yellow fever vaccination is if you are transiting through these countries for less than 12 hours.

Is vaccination against yellow fever efficient for added safety? Well, it is not recommended by the CDC for those traveling to Tanzania from non-endemic countries. However, if you travel frequently and plan to visit other countries in Africa or Central and South America, it makes sense to get vaccinated. Moreover, a single vaccination against yellow fever gives you permanent immunity and provides lifelong protection.

Summary  

There are no mandatory vaccinations for travelers from the European Union or the United States as well as many other countries. No certificates are required by Tanzanian authorities when entering the country, including the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago.

Among the recommended vaccinations, each traveler can choose those that they consider relevant based on the recommendations of their Ministry of Health, personal consultations with trusted physicians, and the information about their health that they possess.

To anyone who comes to Tanzania for a short time to climb Kilimanjaro, go on a safari tour to the national parks, or relax in Zanzibar beaches, we advise to avoid complicating their lives with unnecessary worries and far-fetched fears about Africa. Instead, please take sensible measures and enjoy your vacation in one of the safest countries on the continent - our beautiful Tanzania.

Revised on 15 November 2022
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