Understanding Yellow Fever in Africa – Focus: South Africa

Yellow Fever Vaccination

About Yellow Fever:

Yellow fever is found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa. The virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Illness ranges in severity from a self-limited febrile illness to severe liver disease with bleeding. There is no specific treatment for yellow fever; care is based on symptoms. Steps to prevent yellow fever virus infection include using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and getting vaccinated.

The yellow fever vaccine is required if you are flying inbound South Africa from the following list of countries:

Angola Equatorial Guinea Niger
Benin Ethiopia Nigeria
Burkina Faso Gabon Rwanda
Burundi Gambia Sao Tome and Principe
Cameroon Ghana Senegal
Cape Verde Guinea Sierra Leone
Central African Republic Guinea-Bissau Somalia
Chad Kenya Sudan
Congo: DRC Liberia Tanzania
Congo: RC Mali Togo
Cote d’ Ivoire Mauritania Uganda
Zambia

Click Here to View a Map of African Countries that Have Yellow Fever

If you are coming from or have been in the above countries for more than 6 days, then you would require a “World Health Organization International Certificate of Vaccination” with an appropriately dated certification on the “International Certificate of Vaccination or Revaccination Against Yellow Fever” page to both Port Health AND Immigration officials. This little yellow booklet will be given to you when you are vaccinated against yellow fever for the first time. Carry it with your passport: you’ll typically present them to immigration officials at the same time.

It is advisable to obtain the yellow fever vaccination in your home country at least 10 days before you enter an infected country, as you would need at least 10 days until the vaccine becomes into effect against the virus.

The below is a list of countries where yellow fever is endemic:

Angola Equatorial Guinea Niger
Benin Ethiopia Nigeria
Burkina Faso Gabon Rwanda
Burundi Gambia Sao Tome and Principe
Cameroon Ghana Senegal
Cape Verde Guinea Sierra Leone
Central African Republic Guinea-Bissau Somalia
Chad Kenya Sudan
Congo: DRC Liberia Tanzania
Congo: RC Mali Togo
Cote d’ Ivoire Mauritania Uganda
Zambia

Prevention of yellow fever in South Africa:

The South African Department of Health has made amendments to the yellow fever vaccination policy for travelers coming from yellow fever countries, which will be effective from 1 October 2011.

“As of 1 October 2011, all travelers from and to Zambia, in addition to the list of yellow fever risk countries below, will be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination (unless in possession of a valid waiver certificate).

South Africa requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all citizens and non-citizens over one year of age:

  • travelling from a yellow fever risk country (including low risk countries such as Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia); or
  • having been in transit through a yellow fever risk country. The above requirements are in line with the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005). The IHR requires countries at risk of yellow fever introduction to employ the following measures:

1.1 To obtain vaccination certificates from individuals travelling from areas determined by the WHO to be at risk of yellow fever transmission. As a result, South Africa will exercise the following measures for all travellers from yellow fever risk countries, who are unable to produce a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate at the port of entry:

  • refuse entry; or
    • quarantine until their certificate becomes valid, for a period of not more than six days; or
    • those with an exemption certificate due to medical reasons will be :
  • allowed entry
    • required to report any fever or other symptoms to the health authorities
    • be placed under surveillance.

1.2 Disinfection of aircraft, ships, tyre casing consignments and other modes of transportation coming from yellow fever risk countries.

**Vaccination should be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), and administered at a Yellow fever-approved vaccination centers at least 10 days before departure to South Africa. The vaccine offers protection 10 days after administration. If vaccination is administered less than 10 days before departure, the above-mentioned measures will be applied.**

List of countries for which a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into South Africa:

Angola Ethiopia Senegal
Argentina French Guyana Sierra Leone
Benin Gabon Somalia
Bolivia Gambia Sudan
Brazil Ghana Suriname
Burkina Faso Guinea Togo
Burundi Kenya Trinidad and Tobago
Cameroon Liberia Uganda
Central African Republic Mali United Republic of Tanzania
Chad Mauritania Venezuela
Colombia Niger Zambia
Guinea-Bissau Nigeria
Congo Panama
Cote d’ Ivoire Paraguay
Democratic Republic of Congo Peru
Ecuador Rwanda
Equatorial Guinea

Sao Tome and Principe