Vaccinations before travelling abroad

If you are planning to travel to Latin America, Asia, Oceania or Africa, there is an increased risk of illness. You can minimise this risk through appropriate behaviour to avoid contact with pathogens as much as possible. Vaccinations offer effective protection and are mandatory for entry into certain countries.

13.02.2017

You obtain preventive protection against infection for example by practising consistent hygiene, care in handling drinking water and food, using mosquito nets and insect repellent, face masks, etc.

The question of vaccination when preparing to travel abroad depends on three factors:

  1. on the entry requirements in the country of destination
  2. on the spread of contagious infectious diseases in the country of destination and how you are travelling (comfort tour, trekking, etc.)
  3. on your personal state of health

Obligatory vaccinations

Yellow fever is one of the critical infectious diseases. Generally, we recommend that you get vaccinated against yellow fever if you are travelling to the tropical areas of South America and to most countries in Africa south of the Sahara. Vaccination against yellow fever is obligatory for entering many countries in this region. To prove that you have had this vaccination, you need an official stamp in your yellow international vaccination card.

You can get a vaccination from your GP, a doctor for tropical diseases or a vaccination centre. For a vaccination against yellow fever, you have to go to a vaccination centre or an authorised vaccinating doctor.

Make sure you are vaccinated in good time as various vaccinations have to be repeated and some only develop their full effect after a certain period.

There is no vaccination against the tropical disease malaria. Arrange an appointment with your doctor four to six weeks before departure if you are travelling to a country with a high risk of malaria. Your doctor can prescribe you preventive medication to protect you from contracting the disease or give you medication for self treatment in an emergency when you are travelling. Be sure to protect yourself in any case in your country of destination by sleeping under an impregnated mosquito net, wearing long-sleeved, light clothing and always having an anti-mosquito spray on you.

The Ebola virus exists in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and individual cases have been recorded in Mali too. The Ebola problem is still largely restricted to west Africa. In general, consult the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) if you are planning to travel to a high-risk country.

Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA)

Further information

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