COLOMBIA TRAVEL VACCINES & ADVICE
HEALTH ADVICE FOR TRAVEL TO Colombia
We make every effort to ensure that the information posted on our website is up to date and accurate according to the latest public health recommendations; however, travel health and safety risks in Colombia can change daily.
For the most current travel health recommendations for Colombia, please call our clinic as make an appointment with one of our travel health professionals.
COLOMBIA – RECOMMENDED VACCINES
|Hepatitis A||Recommended for all travelers.|
|Tetanus – Diphtheria – Pertussis Vaccine||Tetanus: In exceptional circumstances (eg, stay in a region where access to health care is limited), for a person aged 18 years or older, 1 dose of DT may be given if 5 years or more has elapsed since the last dose.|
Otherwise, one booster dose at the age of 50*.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough): 1 dose is recommended for pregnant women, for every pregnancy, regardless of immunization history and the interval since the last dose (between week 26 and 32).
*Only applicable for Quebec.
|Measles – Rubella – Mumps||Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1970, if not previously given.|
|Flu – Influenza||Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing or by touching infected surfaces. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine yearly. Vaccine is recommended 14 days prior to departure.|
|Routine vaccines (dCaT, Polio, Meningococcal, Shingles, Pneumococcal, Hepatitis B, HPV, MMR & Varicella)||Recommended for all travelers|
|Typhoid Fever||Recommended for most travelers, especially those who are staying with friends or relatives; visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water; or prone to “adventurous eating”|
|Hepatitis B||Consider for most travelers; recommended for those who might be exposed to blood or other body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).|
|Rabies||For travelers at high risk of animal bites or being involved in activities with bats, dogs and other mammals. Clients who plan to visit remote areas may consider receiving this vaccine. Important to note the pre-exposure rabies vaccine is administered in 2 doses with one week interval between doses. Post-exposure vaccination is always recommended, even for those previously vaccinated.|
|Chagas Disease||Presence. All travelers should protect themselves against triatomine bugs.|
|Traveler’s Diarrhea (ETEC)||Talk to your health care professional about the risks and precautionary measures to take, as well as the Dukoral® vaccine. Important to note that the Dukoral vaccine is an oral vaccine given in 2 doses, recommended at least 2 weeks prior to departure.|
A proof of vaccination against yellow fever may be required upon entry into Colombia.
Some travellers may not be eligible to receive this vaccine. Please enquire with your health care professional regarding your specific details.
For further information, please consult with the World Health Organization (WHO) website:
|Malaria||Malaria is present in Colombia. The risk may be region specific. Prophylaxis measures to be discussed with the health care professional.|
|Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and/or Zika||There are many illnesses that are transmitted via mosquito bites and unfortunately we do not have vaccines to protect us against most of them. It is important to inquire with your healthcare professional regarding the specific risks and the different illnesses presently in circulation.|
FOOD AND WATER-BORNE DISEASES IN COLOMBIA
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers’ diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers’ diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers’ diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
INSECTS AND ILLNESS IN COLOMBIA
In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus , yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in Colombia. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In Colombia, dengue fever is a risk to travellers year-round. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, global numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly.
Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.
Zika virus is a risk in Colombia.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to Colombia. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to Colombia.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to Colombia for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to Colombia or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to Colombia or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more information, see Zika virus: Advice for travellers.
MALARIA IN COLOMBIA
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in Colombia.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
ANIMALS AND ILLNESS IN COLOMBIA
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
PERSON-TO-PERSON INFECTIONS IN COLOMBIA
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
MEDICAL SERVICES AND FACILITIES IN COLOMBIA
Medical care is adequate in major cities but varies in quality elsewhere.
Many private clinics offer emergency services. They may require advance payment in cash or by credit card. Ensure that you have access to sufficient funds. If you don’t have proof of travel insurance, you may be transferred to a public hospital, where medical care may not meet Canadian standards.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
MEDICAL TOURISM IN COLOMBIA
Canadian citizens have died or had serious health complications following cosmetic or other elective surgeries in Colombia. Before leaving for a medical travel, make sure you have done your research and use competent health-care providers only.
- Receiving Medical Care in Other Countries
- Colombian Society for Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery (in Spanish)
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IN COLOMBIA
If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining their legality in Colombia. Always keep your medication in the original container. If possible, pack them in your carry-on luggage and carry a copy of your prescription(s). Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you, as the same medication may not be available in Colombia.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS IN COLOMBIA
You may experience health problems due to Colombia’s high altitudes. Altitude sickness can be life-threatening. It may require immediate medical evacuation. A health-care professional can advise you of how to prevent or reduce the effects of altitude sickness.
DRINKING WATER IN COLOMBIA
The quality of Colombian tap water is better in colder regions than in warmer zones. Regardless of your location, it may not meet Canadian standards.
KEEP IN MIND…
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.