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Do you need Vaccinations to travel to Tanzania?

Everything you need to know about Vaccinations and your Health – for Tanzania

We love to explore new cultures and landscapes. We enjoy our adventures even more knowing we are well prepared. Proper travel planning includes the question: “What health risks are there, and should I protect myself with vaccinations?

UnboxingTanzania tells you how we take care of our health in Dar es Salaam in daily life. We give you a personal view of how we prepared for the trip to Tanzania.  By now, we got to know the situation in Tanzania a bit better and decided to give you some information about common diseases and vaccinations from our point of view.

In this blog you will find these four main points:

  • Health system of Tanzania
  • Common diseases in Tanzania
  • Possible vaccinations and precautions
  • A report about our travel preparation

Disclaimer: We are not doctors and this article does not give medical advice.  We only report on our ownexperiences and express a personal opinion.

What awaits you in Tanzania?

Except for a cold and a little upset stomach, we are doing fine. Of course, we asked ourselves how is the health care system in Tanzania, especially in an emergency? This question is not easy to answer. Tanzania is big. It is obviously a difference between relaxing in Zanzibar, exploring the vastness of the Tanzanian grasslands, or staying in one of the larger cities.

Health Care in Tanzania

In Dar es Salaam, good medical care is provided. There is a state health insurance.  Anyone who works for a registered company or for the state is insured. The insurance covers a certain rate for the treatment.

Of course, everyone could insure themselves privately. Most of the population however does not have health insurance. If you don’t, you have to pay for the treatment in advance.  In an emergency, public hospitals carefor the patient. The costs for this are usually paid for by family members.  Depending on the income, there is also a possibility to apply for help from the state.

Medical facilities:

Private and public hospitals offer many services.  But you don’t have to go there for the minor paper cut. Here is a small overview of the medical facilities:


If you have a fever in Tanzania, the way to a laboratory is inevitable. Here you can get your malaria test.  This is a quick test.  If the test is positive, you will also be prescribed the medicine. Here you can test for corona if you need to.

Tanzanians also use the labs. As soon as they have a fever, they go to the laboratory for the malaria test.  In addition, they can be vaccinated in the laboratories.  One can also get tested for HIV and hepatitis in the laboratory.

Dispensary (not pharmacies)

In Tanzania, dispensaries are not pharmacies. A Dispensary refers to medical practice, that is specialized in a health area.  Dentist, pediatrician, or ophthalmologist treat their patients here. The equipment of the office is usually meager. Often, when it is not obvious what is wrong with a patient, or when treatment requires certain medical equipment, they are referred to hospitals.

State Hospitals

There are smaller state hospitals in each district. Also, in Buza we have one. Many of our friends often go directly to the hospital when they get sick. The local hospitals have basic equipment. More complicated cases are then treated only in large hospitals.

Visiting a friend in one of the buildings of the Muhimbili National Hospital

We’ll tellyou a story from a friend to show how the medical system works for Tanzanians. She lives a bit remotely in Cheka, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. There, she was bitten by a Black Mamba. To the nearest hospital, she had to walk for 20 minutes and then take a Pikipiki (motorcycle). The local (small) hospital did not have the antidote available. She was sent to the next larger hospital. That meant another half-hour drive for our friend; this time with a Bajaji. There she could – finally – be helped. She is fine again.

In Dar es Saalam the largest statehospital is Muhimbili National Hospital.  We have also been there several times to visit friends and support their families.  At the hospital facilities, there is the possibility to eat. But in Tanzania, it is common for the patient’s family to bring food every day.  First of all, it tastes better and is also a lot cheaper.

Private hospitals

Probably the best medical care in Tanzania you get in private hospitals. We have a long-term foreign health insurance, and this covers the costs in an emergency as well as various preventive examinations.  Personally, we would prefer one of the private hospitals in case of emergency.


Do you already have an international health insurance for your trip? Pay attention to which services are covered.  You will notice that the services of the different providers differ quite a lot.

Duka ya Dawa (Pharmacy) 

The small pharmacies can be found everywhere.  You can get a lot; from disinfectants to ointments, toothpastes to diapers. Of course, you can also get your prescribed medication. However, there are also fake products. So, pay attention to the packaging and the information on the package insert.

Common Diseases in Tanzania

Our Tanzanian friends talk openly about the topic of diseases and health problems. Whether it is stomach problems, malaria, manure infection or haemorrhoids – diseases discussed with friends and neighbors. We observe that our neighbors and friends suffer from the following diseases. Afterwards we’ll tell you how to protect yourselves.

UTI – Urinary Tract Infection

There can be many causes of a urinary tract infection. As with many infections, transmission from person to person is possible with close physical contact. So be careful.

There is one more thought we would like to add here. It’s not the most popular topic, but we think it should be mentioned. Women, in particular, suffer often from UTI. When you use the squat toilets , pay attention to hygiene. The bacteria often get into the urethra in this way.

Stomach problems and typhoid

Many people drink water because it is extracted from wells but is not filtered. Thus, stomach problems are inevitable. This is also how you be infected with typhus.

Another reason for stomach problems can be eating food that is not stored properly.


According to the information from our tropical doctor, malaria is widespread in Tanzania.  For everyone in Tanzania, there is a rule of thumb: As soon as you have a fever, you immediately take a malaria test.  Yes, malaria is a big issue for the population in Tanzania.

On the website of the Federal Foreign Office you will find a list of other common diseases. We have not listed them here because we have not yet get in contact with these infections in Dar es Salaam.

Even if there is emergency medical care in Tanzania, you certainly do not want to get sick. How can you protect yourself?

We recommend that you seek a personal conversation with a tropical doctor. Those Doctors are the best to offer medical advice to you. Although we have read a lot about the various diseases and vaccinations, the way to the doctor is irreplaceable. Fortunately, our German GP was also a tropical doctor.

“Standard” Vaccinations

We give you a little insight into which vaccinations we have thought about.

On your safari in Tanzania, you will notice that many bushes protect themselves from predators with spines. Small abrasions and scratches are almost inevitable. That’s why we recommend to always carry a wound-disinfectant spray with you.

A tetanus vaccination can be helpful in such cases. As always, it’s best to seek advice from your doctor about this.


Always pack a wound disinfectant spray for direct wound treatment directly into your pocket. If you want to clean a wound with water, do not – under any circumstances – use tap water. It is also best to use the disinfectant spray to clean the wound – or purchased drinking water from a bottle.

The Robert Koch Institute and your GP are good advisors when it comes to such vaccinations

Travel Vaccinations

On the pages of the German Tropical Institute, you will find reliable information about vaccinations.  

It is up to your personal assessment whether and for which vaccinations you decide. Here is a small overview of travel vaccinations you could think about:


Here in Buza / Dar es Salaam typhoid fever is a common disease here.  Regardless of whether you choose to be vaccinated or not, there are some measures you can take to protect yourself. We give you the same tip that we give to our relatives and friends who want to visit us:

  • Do not drink water from the tap
  • Use bottled drinking water – also for brushing your teeth
  • Press your lips together when showering
  • Make sure that cutlery and dishes are dry
  • After washing hands, dry them well


Tanzania has initiated various projects to vaccinate pets against rabies.  Nevertheless, Tanzania is still a country with a medium risk of rabies. When an animal bites, you always have to think of rabies.  Unfortunately, in many remote areas of Tanzania, it is difficult to obtain treatment within the necessary 24 hours.

One experience in particular has taught us how quickly you can have (too) close encounters with animals on a safari. In one camp, we enjoyed our breakfast. However, we were not the only ones who were hungry. A group of baboons roamed the camp. Before we really noticed, a strong male baboon sat next to us and hissed at us. Fortunately, the rangers came to our aid in time and drove the monkeys away. Such close contact with animals, especially with monkeys, can really happen occasionally.  Here in Buza we also see a few monkeys, although not baboons.

However, most carriers of rabies are not wild animals, but pets. Because of that we have a small rule that also reduces your risk of rabies infection:

  • We do not paint animals.

No matter how cute the kittens are, or how golden the dog looks – don’t touch them! Keep your distance!

What a cute Kitten – but remember don’t pet the cat

More tips can be found here: We find this page very balanced.

Yellow fever

The good news, according to the World Health Organization, Tanzania is free of yellow fever. If you are arriving from a country without yellow fever risk, you do not need to show proof of vaccination upon entry. Proof of vaccination is required if you have been in a yellow fever risk area for more than 24 years.

These requirements may change depending on the epidemic situation. In order to find current regulations, you should check the official websites of the Foreign Office and the Tanzanian government for entry requirements.


Check your passport to see which countries you have already been to. Depending on this, Tanzania may require a vaccination against yellow fever.


As far as we are aware, there are no Covid-19 related entry restrictions. The Foreign Office recommends that you have a vaccination against COVID-19 upon entry (the vaccines recognized in Tanzania and by the WHO).

We had to show our vaccination certificate when we entered the country in 2022. Friends who visited us in 2023 were no longer asked for their vaccination records.

Hepatitis A and B

We were already vaccinated for hepatitis A and B in Germany. So, we didn’t consider the necessity for Tanzania so much. (In Germany, we were both first responders in the companies we worked in. Just in case you were wondering.)

Dengue fever

For a couple of years now, there is a vaccine approved in the USA. Since 2023, vaccination is also possible in Germany. But we were already here in Tanzania. That’s why we try to protect ourselves from mosquito bites with clothing and mosquito repellent.


Of course, there is a lot to report about malaria. That’s why we’ve dedicated a separate blog to this topic.

And Then Come the Needles

After you have gathered all the information, you have to make your personal decision. After making our decisions about which vaccines to get, we were given a schedule by our GP.

Since the immune system is bombarded with “work”, it must be well-timed. If we overwhelm our immune system, it can’t build the protective wall we want.  


Don’t put it off. You should really talk to the doc a few months before your flight and decide. 

We bravely faced the needles. We felt some side effects. Our arms hurt for a few days. Once each of us had a bit of a fever and was exhausted. Maybe you can schedule different days for the vaccination than your partner’s – so one can take care of the other. We found this very helpful. It’s also smart not to get the shots a day before an important meeting, as you may not feel 100%.

Bottom Line

We are concerned about our health and try to protect ourselves as much as possible against diseases. The reality, however, is that you can’t protect yourself against everything, and vaccinations can have side effects.

In our travel preparations, we wanted to make conscious decisions so that we do not have to blame ourselves in case of illness.

We enjoy our stay in Tanzania.  With the right preparation, your trip to Tanzania will certainly be a fantastic experience.

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