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Vaccinations for Gambia

There are a number of recommended vaccinations for Gambia for travellers from Western Europe. Yellow fever vaccine is strongly recommended/required for all travellers but also the risk of contracting many diseases in this region is unfortunately higher than at home in Ireland.


For the short-term tourist the recommended vaccinations for Gambia include cover against childhood vaccines (Tetanus and Poliomyelitis) and also to have protection against certain other food and water borne diseases (Hepatitis A and Typhoid). Those spending longer in Gambia will need to consider further cover also (Hepatitis B, Rabies and Meningococcal Meningitis) and this may take some time to complete before the trip.

Each traveller’s initial consultation should take place at least 4 – 6 weeks in advance of your trip to Gambia.

Many of our travellers to this region are planning to fish while there and some extra thought and preparation needs to be considered to help ensure their safety. Being with a recognised and experienced party rather than a single lone traveller is a very sensible precaution. Fresh water contact may expose the traveller to a disease known as Schistosomiasis.

There is a very significant risk of malaria in the whole country of Gambia throughout the year (though highest during the rainy season) so malaria prophylaxis will always be recommended for your trip. There are a number of different options which need to be considered for each individual person.

There will be plenty of mosquitoes about during the rainy season (mainly early in the morning and after sunset) so bring a good insect repellent. One with 30% to 50% ‘DEET’ is usually the best.

Please always remember that each traveller is distinct and so individual specific information will require a medical consultation.


Recommended

Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. This live vaccine is given on one occasion at least 10 days before travel (if at all possible) and provides life long cover in the majority of patients.

All Travellers

Poliomyelitis
Poliomyelitis is a viral disease transmitted through oral/faecal contamination and the respiratory route. The vaccine is combined with cover against Tetanus and Diphtheria. Most travellers who have completed their primary course of childhood vaccines will only require a single booster dose to provide cover. Once completed it is expected that cover should last for 10 years.
Tetanus
Tetanus is contracted through contaminated cuts, bites and breaks in the skin. The vaccination provides cover for approximately 10 years in the majority of patients. It is frequently combined with cover against other diseases such as Poliomyelitis, Diphtheria and/or Pertussis.
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a common disease in many of the hotter regions of the world and usually contracted through contaminated food and water. Cover against Hepatitis A can be given alone or combined with protection against Typhoid or Hepatitis B. Once completed, the Hepatitis A vaccination (given on two occasions 6 to 12 months apart) provides cover for approximately 25 years in the majority of patients.
Typhoid
Typhoid is a bacterial disease contracted through contaminated food and water. This vaccine can be combined with cover against Hepatitis A. Once completed, the Typhoid vaccination given on one occasion provides cover for between 2 to 3 years in the majority of patients

Optional

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a viral disease which is usually transmitted in a very similar fashion to HIV/AIDS through contact with infected body fluids (eg blood exposure and sexually). This vaccine can be combined with cover against Hepatitis A. The standard schedule for Hepatitis B is to administer the vaccine on days 0, 28 and 180. A more rapid schedule can be used in cases where cover is needed more urgently and this is administered on days 0, 7, 21 to 28 and also 365. Following either course (and not before completion) a blood test can be taken to confirm sufficient antibody protection. Where the correct level of antibodies are showing (>100iu) the vaccination is recognised to provide cover for life.
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease which is usually transmitted through the bite, the lick or the scratch of any infected warm blooded animal. The vaccine is usually administered on days 0, 7 and between 21 to 28. A final 4th vaccine is administered about 1 year later. Once a course is completed, the vaccination provides life long 'immune memory' in the majority of patients BUT after any possible exposure the individual always needs further vaccination to boost antibody production
Meningococcal Meningitis
Meningococcal Meningitis is a bacterial disease which is usually transmitted through the respiratory route. The vaccine is given on one occasion and provides cover against four of the main forms of this disease. Once a course is completed the vaccination provides for over 5 years in the majority of patients.
There is a risk throughout the country

Country Profile

Find out more about the health risks you should be aware of when travelling in Gambia by reading the DFA Gambia country information page
or the WHO Gambia country information page.