Get Travel Vaccinations for an African Safari

This afternoon I realized that I can be pretty wimpy. Actually, the realization came at 3:00 in the morning when I was wide-eyed awake, unable to sleep due to the thought of that days doctor appointment. In general, I am not a fan of going to the doctors, but especially today because I knew the intention was to get vaccinations. I am a bit afraid of needles. Actually, what scares me more is the awareness of impending pain. But, on the good side of things (the really good side), I am going on an African safari, on the bad side…I need some vaccinations to get there.

In a few short weeks, I will be chasing down the Big 5, Africa’s greatest wild animals, in Tanzania with Shadows of Africa tours.

We will be going on game drives at Lake Manyara, and Ngorongoro National Parks.

African Elephant in Tanzania Africa

When I first confirmed this trip, I phoned the travel health department of my insurance carrier to find out what the vaccination requirements would be for Tanzania. Though most vaccines were not technically required, many were “highly recommended”, which was good enough for me. The only really iffy one was Yellow Fever. Tanzania requires it if you come from, or have a long layover in, a high risk area, but not if you are flying straight through from somewhere like Amsterdam.

Though the advice nurse said that it has been known for random arriving passengers to be checked for their Yellow Fever vaccine card. And if they failed to provide one they would not allow them to enter the country, unless they paid a fee to get the shot at the airport.

Hell no.

There was no way I was going to be travelling for more than twenty hours and then be turned away at the airport. And even more so, with my fear of shots even at my resident doctors office, there was no way I would be getting one at an African airport all by myself. So, even though my layover in Kenya on the way to Tanzania would be short, I didn’t want to take any chances.

At the very last minute, I added the Yellow Fever vaccine to the bunch.

The tally for the day at the doctor’s appointment would be total of four intramuscular/intradermal vaccines (Yellow Fever, Polio Booster, Tetanus, Hepatitis A), one live oral one (Typhoid), plus Malaria (Malarone) and Anti-Diarrheal (Ciprofloxacin) meds for the road.

Africa Vaccinations

I am going to shamefully admit that I made my mother come with me to get my shots. I am truly a self-proclaimed wimp. I can jump out of a plane, swim with stingrays and rappel into a cavern, but a little prick on my arm scares the crap out of me.

I plopped on the table, while my mom sat in a chair next to me chattering the entire time about her restaurant woes (she owns one too). And though I had heard the same stories a dozen times before, it helped to divert my attention for a moment. Sometimes you just need your mommy.

The nurse walked in carrying four needles and my heart started to race, along with my mind. Why can’t they just put all the vaccinations into one syringe? What will be worse, the pain from the injection or the liquid going in? Why didn’t I take a shot of Tequila beforehand?

“Please, be nice I am really nervous and forgot to request a shot of Tequila or at least a Valium beforehand.” She laughed. As if giving shots could be nice.

The sweet lady came at me with the first vaccine of the bunch, which was the tetanus shot. When I told her I was left-handed, she shot me with the tetanus in the right arm. At that time, I wondered why, but now it is all clear. That one hurt the least going in, but hurts the most six hours later. Damn intramuscular shot.

In actuality, none of the vaccinations really hurt much more than a pinch. The yellow fever liquid did sting a bit, but it was a completely wasted day of worry. Lesson learned.

Annette White Vaccinations for Tanzania, Africa

Now I just need to buy some binoculars, extra memory cards and SPF 6o sunscreen. Then I will be all ready to check this African safari thing off my bucket list.

If you are traveling out of country visit the Center for Disease Control for up-to-date vaccination requirements.

More About Africa

The African Big Five: The Top 5 Animals to Spot on Safari
African Safari in Tanzania: The Ultimate Itinerary and Tour
Africa’s Maasai Tribe: The Culture & Traditions of The People
Safari Animal Bucket List: 35 Top African Wildlife to Spot
Four Seasons Safari Lodge: Luxury in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park
9 Things To Do on a Long Haul Flight to Cure Boredom

23 thoughts on “Get Travel Vaccinations for an African Safari”

  1. Make sure to get another Hep A shot in 6-12 months so you have prolonged immunity, otherwise you have to keep getting them anytime you go to a place that requires or recommends hep A shots.

    The loperamide is the anti-diarrheal, and ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic that you can use for travelers diarrhea. Sorry….the nurse in me just came out!

  2. I JUST got all of these shots 2 months ago, including yellow fever. Everyone told me that it was going to be horrible but I was surprised at how little it hurt. a wonderful surprise, let me tell you!

  3. Well done Annette! When I got mine, valium was definitely on the menu! Serious needle phobic over here! Travel vaccines did help me a lot though – my desire to travel was so strong that I had to have them. I can now give blood without any help from valium. My yellow fever isn’t due yet – I should be going to Africa and countries where it is required ASAP – think I only have 1 year left!!!

    • I guess my desire to travel is stronger than my fear of shots too. But, I’m happy that my yellow fever vaccine lasts for ten years!

  4. I used to be a huge wimp when it came to needles too! I don’t mind them too terribly much now, but I’ve never had to get so many at once! It’s going to be sooo worth it.

    • I don’t care much about the ones at the dentist, it just the ones in the arm. Probably because I don’t get them that often.

  5. I haaaate shots. The nurse always says “you did so well!” after, and I go “no, for a five year old I did well. For a 25 year old, not so much.” This typically gets a laugh. It looks like you actually did well, though :)

  6. I had to get all those – minus yellow fever – before I moved to Shanghai. It was unpleasant but worth it in the long run. Now we’re getting ready to move back to the States and my husband’s employer wants us to get tested for TB. It never ends!

    PS – congrats on the safari!! That’s on my bucket list too :-)

  7. Yeah, Yellow fiver is quiet important (which is quiet strange as there is many many much more dangerous diseases in Africa), when I was in Benin, they stopped me in the airport, as my vaccine expired! I have been directed to the doctor at the airport and had to had a shot there, as they wouldn’t let me into the country!

  8. it is very wise to take such vaccinations before you travel to any country in the tropical region of Africa same really fail to do so you took a right step.

  9. I just wanted to personally thank you for easing my anxiety about going in for my travel shots next week. I could absolutely relate to everything you said. THANK YOU :)


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Hey Bucket Listers!
I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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