NHS Service

Vaccinations Required for Travel to South America

Are you off to celebrate Carnaval? Hike Machu Picchu? Whether you have booked a cable car ride in La Paz, are wine tasting in Argentina or are hitting the Peruvian or Ecuadorian surf - you’ll have an experience in South America like no other! Travel arrangements can be a mix of excitement and worry. Trying to sort out what vaccines you need in order to travel to South America can be confusing. At Touchwood Pharmacy, we offer all the advice and vaccines you need to plan your South America Adventure!
South America

What Vaccines are Mandatory for South America?

Minimum mandatory vaccines for Africa include:  

  • Routine vaccines such as:
    • Measles
    • Mumps 
    • Rubella
    • Polio, 
    • Tetanus 
    • Diphtheria 
    • Whooping cough  
  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever

Touchwood Pharmacy offers advice and vaccinations to prepare you for your trip to South America. Here is more information about what you’ll need:

Hepatitis Vaccine for Travel to South America

Hepatitis A is found in the stool and blood of infected people, is very contagious, and can be spread without symptoms. Hepatitis A is spread from close personal contact with an infected person and can be contracted by caring for a person who is ill, through certain types of sexual contact and using drugs with others. This vaccine-preventable liver infection is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). A vaccine for Hepatitis A is required when travelling to an area with poor levels of sanitation, and whereHepatitis A is common. South America remains on the World Health Organisation’s list of endemic regions.

Typhoid Vaccine for Travel to South America

If you do contract typhoid fever, it is potentially fatal if left untreated, which is why typhoid vaccination is recommended. Those travelling to South America should take precautions such as practising effective personal and hand hygiene and observing strict food and water safety precautions to avoid infection. Typhoid is spread through sewage contamination of food or water. If contaminated water is used to wash food, or if someone who has it does not wash hands after using the bathroom, it can spread. Because certain areas of South America are remote or have poor sanitation and limited access to clean water, typhoid vaccination is recommended prior to travel to South America. 

Polio Booster for Travel to South America

Polio has not been eradicated in South America and still reports cases annually, thus a Polio booster shot is recommended.  It is most frequently spread through contact with the faeces of an infected person. Less frequently, it spreads through droplets from a sneeze or cough from an infected person. Good hand washing practices can help prevent the spread, but vaccination is the best defence. Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that attacks the nervous system.

Diphtheria Vaccine for Travel to South America

Diphtheria bacteria spreads through droplets from coughing or sneezing, as well as through touching infected open sores or ulcers. This means it can be caught as easily as a cold or flu if you happen to be in the same room as someone who is infected. South America is one of the locations endemic for diphtheria due to low rates of vaccine uptake. Luckily, Diphtheria vaccines are routinely given during childhood in the UK, but a booster shot is recommended if you are going to a part of the world where diphtheria is widespread. It is known to be a potentially fatal contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the nose and throat as well as the skin on occasion.

Tetanus Vaccine for Travel to South America

Tetanus is a vaccine preventable disease which spreads differently than other diseases that fall into this category. It spreads when bacteria trapped in soil, dust and manure enters the body through breaks in human skin rather than spreading from person to person. Tetanus is usually a risk from puncture wounds or cuts caused by a contaminated object like a nail or a wire. It is often called lockjaw and is an infection characterised by painful muscle contractions.Tetanus vaccination is usually given in a combined diphtheria, polio and tetanus vaccine during childhood in the UK, but you may need a booster to travel, depending on how long ago your last set of vaccinations has been or whether you can provide evidence of those vaccinations before travel. 

Yellow Fever Vaccine for Travel to South America

The yellow fever vaccination is one that is issued with a Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, should you require one for your travels. The vaccine should be administered at least 10 days prior to your departure and will offer lifelong immunity. Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes with the term “Yellow” referring to the yellowing of the eyes and skin that affects some patients known as jaundice. Yellow fever occurs in some areas and is a required vaccination for travel to South America. 

You may also be required to be vaccinated for Cholera, Meningitis or Rabies, depending on your itinerary.

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