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arusha airport

Anyone planning to visit East Africa requires a yellow fever vaccination and the certificate to prove it, in order to enter countries, like Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Fortunately, getting vaccinations in Korea is a super quick, affordable, and easy process. Before we visited Tanzania and the Serengeti, we got yellow fever vaccinations at the National Medical Centre in central Seoul. I’ll describe the process for you in as much detail as possible.

arusha airport

If you want to enter certain countries in Africa, you need a yellow fever certification

Mosquitos absolutely love me. Or rather my blood. It doesn’t seem to matter how many other tasty veins are around, they all zone into me and I end up with 10 bites, while everyone around me gets off scot-free! Agri likes to call me his “insect repellent,” because they don’t bother with him and his furry legs when I’m around.

I despise mosquitos with a vengeance. A close second in the “despising category” is being forced to do things I don’t really want to do. Finding out that I HAD to get a yellow fever vaccination to enter Tanzania, didn’t make me happy. The fact that yellow fever is transmitted by the female version of the blood sucking monster made it even worse.

Avoiding mosquito bites in endemic areas is one of the main ways to prevent yellow fever. So unless I walk all over Tanzania wearing a head to toe bugsuit, that’s not going to happen.

lion in the serengeti

Trying to avoid mosquitos in the Serengeti might be impossible

To be fair, yellow fever isn’t happy stuff, with the most serious cases ending in multi-organ dysfunction and death. Still, these deaths are rare and usually among the elderly. And in fact, people have died from getting the vaccine too!! 🙁

PRO TIP

Do you need a travel visa for Tanzania? I recommend applying in advance, so you don’t get scammed at immigration, like we did.

> Read our tips on how to avoid getting scammed at Immigration in Tanzania.

Getting vaccinations in Korea

However, since we didn’t have any choice in the matter, off we went to the travel clinic at the National Medical Centre or 국립중앙의료원 in Korean. We called ahead to make sure we could get vaccinated there, but appointments are not really necessary. You can just walk-in.

The process is a little confusing because you have to visit a few different locations within the hospital, but all the rooms are basically attached to the main lobby, so there’s not much distance to cover. I’ll try to explain as clearly as possible.

Getting Vaccinations in Korea: Yellow Fever

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We found an info desk immediately to the right of the entrance doors, where we filled out our yellow fever vaccination forms.
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Once that was done, we had to take the forms and pay the vaccination fee at the bank located across the lobby. The fee for the yellow fever vaccination was 32,560 won. As proof of payment, the bank teller gave us a bunch of postage type stamps which were then glued to the bottom of the form.
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From there, we walked over to a desk that said “Yellow Fever Certification” in english above it. It’s next to another counter, where people are waiting for their number to be called. We didn’t have to take a number or wait at all…just walked right up to the other counter. We paid another 5,000 won each for the actual yellow fever certificate.
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Next to this counter, was the “Travel Clinic.” We handed over our completed forms to the nurse at the front desk. She took our temperature to make sure it was normal.
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After a few minutes, we were shown in to see the doctor. He reviewed our travel itinerary and suggested that we also get typhoid fever and tetanus immunizations, along with something for malaria. He also went over the side effects of the yellow fever immunization and checked our profiles to make sure there were no risk factors. He spoke mostly in Korean, which I can understand, but not speak very well. (But I’m actually pretty certain the doctor spoke english well too).
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Once cleared to get the shot, we walked over to the injection room, handed over our forms again and then sat in the waiting area. Ten minutes later, we were called in, and before I knew it, the shot was over and done with. Just a little prick and not painful at all.
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We were given our signed WHO International Certificates of vaccination and told to sit and wait for 20 minutes before leaving, to ensure we didn’t have any kind of allergic reaction.

It’s been 48 hours since we had the vaccination, and so far, so good. No side effects (though incubation is 3-6 days). We’ll see, I guess.

zebra in the serengeti, yellow fever vaccinations in korea

These zebra in the Serengeti don’t care about yellow fever

Getting vaccinations in Korea: Typhoid Fever

We also ended up getting the vaccination for typhoid fever. It’s a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Gross. Wash your hands already! But since we’re adventurous eaters while traveling, it seemed wise.

For this shot, we had to take a number at the big counter to pay (not the bank), and go through the whole doctor consultation – injection room – waiting process again. Still, the whole thing only took another 20 minutes. And the cost for this one was 15,000 won each.

National Medical Centre Travel Clinic

The National Medical Centre International Travel Clinic provides counselling about required and recommended immunizations for international travel. They suggest visiting at least 2 months before any trips planned to foreign countries.

They provide vaccinations for: yellow fever, Hep A & B, Typhoid, Tetanus/Diphteria/Pertusis, Meningococcal, MMR, Varicella, Polio, Japanese Encephalitis, Influenza, Pneumococcal, HPV, and Influenza. However, all vaccines are not necessarily in stock, so it’s best to call in advance if you’re getting a specific vaccination in Korea.

Address: 245 Eulji-ro, Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul

Phone: 1588-1775

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 12:00 and 13:30 – 16:00.

The closest subway station is Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, on Line 4. Take Exit 13.

Comments:

  • June 19, 2015

    Story of my life! – mosquitoes absolutely love me, they’ll bite me through layers of clothing. 🙁
    We’re planning to visit Tanzania in a couple of months, so this vaccination is on my to-do list, much as I despise the idea of it.

    reply...
    • June 20, 2015

      Ugh! Being loved by mosquitos is the absolute worst, isn’t it? 🙁 The weird thing is that when we visited, no one even checked to make sure that we had our immunizations! Of course, I wouldn’t risk it, but it was kinda frustrating nonetheless. Whereabouts are you visiting in Tanzania? We loved it there! 😀

      reply...
      • June 20, 2015

        Planning a safari in Serengeti, Tarangire and Ngorongoro, followed by some time in Zanzibar. Can’t wait!

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        • June 21, 2015

          That’s almost exactly what we did! except we went to Lake Manyara, instead of Tarangire. The best part was the Serengeti though, and I would definitely recommend spending the most time there. Sad to say, but there were so many cars in Ngorongoro, and the animals were so lackadaisical, that I felt like it was an open air zoo. But the Serengeti, wow, it’s really a special place. 😀 And the food in Zanzibar, some of the best we’ve had in the world. Ahh, I’m jealous!!! I’d love to go back again.

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          • June 21, 2015

            That’s the plan – about 4 days in Serengeti, out of our 7. And I’ve heard that about Ngorongoro, but I’m still hoping the animals won’t be too jaded.

  • James

    January 9, 2013

    I am assuming you can do this on the weekend?

    reply...
    • January 16, 2013

      Maybe Saturday, but your best bet is to give them a call and make sure!

      reply...
  • jeseris

    October 25, 2012

    We got ours (for free), with some trepidation, in Brazil – but I really didn’t want to have it either so I feel your pain! 🙂

    reply...
    • Shelley

      October 26, 2012

      Damn! If I’d known we could get them free in Brazil, we would’ve waited!! 😉

      reply...

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