18 September 2013 Written by 

A brief guide on yellow fever vaccine before travelling to Kenya

When travelling to and fro certain countries in Africa, there is a need at times to get inoculated against the yellow fever. While it is highly recommended by health authorities, it is not compulsory each time you travel to and fro Kenya.

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease that presents itself in most cases in humans with fever, chills, anorexia, nausea, headaches and muscle pains (especially backaches).

Where is it found?

The disease is found predominantly in Africa and Latin America. In Africa it is transmitted/found in the following countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda.

Is the transmission high in Kenya?

Generally, no. In Kenya, the transmission is very low and at times can even escape detection in the following places: North Eastern, the Coast and Nairobi.

Who needs the vaccine?

When travelling to Kenya from Europe or North America, it is NOT compulsory to get inoculated against the disease. When leaving Kenya, it is NOT compulsory to have it either, although health authorities recommend it. Yellow fever cannot survive in Europe or North America. Experts such as the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and prevention) however state that the vaccination is recommended for all travellers over nine months of age going to Kenya (regardless if coming from a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission) except if only visiting the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, and the provinces of North Eastern and Coast.

If you are travelling from a country with risk of transmission of yellow fever, the Kenya Government will require a yellow fever certificate from you.

If you leave Kenya for another country, chances are you will be required to produce a yellow vaccine certificate, as Kenya is a listed country.

Do I need to inoculate myself each time I travel to Kenya?

No, you do not. For those who take the vaccine, you will be awarded with a yellow fever certificate, which is valid for 10 years starting 10 days after the vaccination.

When should I have myself vaccinated?

At least 10 days before travelling.

Note: Less than 15 % of reported cases have the disease mutate into a second phase where jaundice occurs due to liver damage and recurrent fever and abdominal pain persists. Travelers rarely catch it but when they do it can be fatal.



Ernest Wamboye Wakhusama

Ernest Wamboye is a writer and editor working in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a volunteer Brand Ambassador at AfricaTalentbank.com and an origami artist and storyteller at Arts & OAK, a company that he founded. Ernest is married to Waturi and they both live in Nairobi, Kenya.
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