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Vaccinations for Colombia

Coffee hills in Colombia with clouds and mist
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If you’re travelling to Colombia then you may be wondering what vaccinations you need before you board your plane. The South American country is packed with natural beauty and cultural cities. But before you get started on planning your itinerary, you’ll need to think about your health and safety.

Here we share the recommended travel vaccinations for Colombia as well as additional safety tips for protecting yourself against the most common health risks.

Are you up to date on your British immunisations?

Before you consider vaccinations for any overseas destination, you should first make sure you’re up to date with routine British immunisations. This includes the MMR vaccine (measles-mumps-rubella) and the diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. You can find out which vaccines you need via the NHS.

Do you need any vaccinations to visit Colombia?

It’s advised to have or be up to date with the following vaccinations before visiting Colombia:

  • Hepatitis A

    Hepatitis A is a viral infection that is spread through contaminated food and water, and is high risk in areas with poor sanitation. Symptoms are often mild however recovery can take months. The Hepatitis A jab is highly recommended and available for free on the NHS.

  • Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B is spread through infected blood, contaminated needles and sexual intercourse. The risk for Hepatitis B is higher in those who travel frequently.

  • Rabies

    Rabies is a serious and normally fatal disease that is spread through the saliva of infected animals. It is considered a risk in Colombia where it has been reported in domestic animals and bats, and therefore is recommended for some travellers visiting this country.

  • Yellow fever

    The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for some travellers when visiting parts of South America. It isn’t available on the NHS but is available privately and can offer lifelong protection. You will be required to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you have arrived in Colombia from, or spent more than 12 hours in the airport of, Angola, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo or Uganda.

  • Typhoid

    Typhoid is a disease that is mainly spread through contaminated food and drink in areas where safe water is limited. The typhoid vaccine is recommended for most travellers to Colombia.

  • DTaP

    The DTaP jab protects against three serious illnesses: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. It is recommended to be up to date with this vaccination before travelling to Colombia due to the increased risk of tetanus. All UK citizens should have a primary vaccination course via the NHS however boosters are recommended if your last jab was longer than 10 years ago.

  • COVID-19

    This is also a risk of exposure to COVID-19 in Colombia. This risk can change at short notice so make sure to check the latest government guidelines before travelling.

    You are not required to have completed the COVID-19 vaccination scheme to enter Colombia however you will have to show proof of a negative PCR or Antigen test no later than 72 hours prior to your flight. Vaccinated travellers can enter Colombia without needing to test or quarantine. Those travelling via cruise ship will need to be fully vaccinated and show a negative PCR test before entering the country.

    All visitors over 2 years of age are required to wear a mask throughout their journey to Colombia including in the airport. Make sure to check the latest up to date advice before your trip.

    COVID-19 tests for travel

Learn more about what travel vaccinations you need for Colombia with the LloydsPharmacy travel vaccination checker.

Check what vaccines you need

How much do vaccines for Colombia cost?

Not all travel vaccinations are available for free on the NHS; you may have to visit a private clinic to pay. Free and paid for vaccinations are available via Lloyds Pharmacy, via MASTA where you can book an appointment today.

Free NHS travel vaccines

Free vaccines on the NHS may be available via your GP surgery. These include polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera.

Other vaccines

If appropriate, you may have to pay for the following travel vaccinations before travelling to Colombia:

  • Rabies - 3 doses costing £40 - £60 each
  • Hepatitis B - approximately £50
  • Yellow fever - £60 - £85

Where can I get vaccines for Colombia?

You may get free and paid vaccinations at your local GP surgery; make sure to ask your doctor which they have available.

Paid for vaccinations not available on the NHS can be booked privately at a travel clinic or at a pharmacy. Discover your local centre and book an appointment today with LloydsPharmacy through MASTA. You’ll be able to find a full list of the vaccinations you need for Colombia as well as a list of your nearest clinics.

How far in advance do you need to get vaccines for Colombia?

It is advisable to book an appointment with your GP or local travel clinic at least 8 weeks before your trip to ensure you have enough time to receive your recommended vaccinations. Some vaccines require multiple doses spread out over the course of a few weeks.

What happens if I don’t have these vaccinations?

You are not required to have any vaccinations by law to enter Colombia unless you have arrived from Angola, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo or Uganda. In this case you will need a yellow fever certificate.

Common risks when going to Colombia

Food and water safety

Food is generally safe to eat in Colombia however there are some simple tips you can follow to help protect yourself against food poisoning. Peel fruit and vegetables before eating and always wash your hands before a meal. You should also only eat fresh, washed ingredients that haven’t been left out in the sun. Bogota is one of the only cities in Colombia where you can drink tap water, so drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Temperatures and climate

Colombia has many areas of either high altitude (2400m or more) or very high altitude (3658m or more) where the air pressure is much lower than normal. Going into these areas can be dangerous and cause ill effects including Acute Mountain Sickness. Make sure to give your body enough time to acclimatise to being at a higher altitude. Colombia can also be a very hot country, with temperatures reaching 40°C (104°F) all year round. Make sure to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen and treat sunburn effectively with suncare products.

Malaria

Malaria is a serious disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is presence of malaria in certain parts of Colombia, particularly lower altitude municipalities. You should take precautions to protect against malaria which include using insect repellent, wearing long clothing and sleeping under a mosquito net. Taking these precautions will also help to protect you against other illnesses transmitted by mosquito bites including dengue fever which is more common in urban areas of Colombia.

In summary, it is recommended to have a number of travel vaccinations before visiting Colombia including hepatitis A & B and DTaP. You may also want to consider yellow fever and rabies vaccinations depending on the areas of the country you’re visiting.

Stopping off elsewhere on your adventure? Find out what other travel vaccinations you need including vaccines for Cuba and Mexico. You can also get more advice on how to stay healthy abroad by finding out more about tropical illnesses and the best travel essentials for your trip.

*This article is correct as of 20/12/2022. Please note, these recommendations can change at any time, so it's best to always check https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/ for any updated guidelines. 

References

www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/nhs-vaccinations-and-when-to-have-them
www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/south-america-antarctica/colombia
wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/colombia
www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/colombia