Vaccinations and precautions

Know before you go

Vaccinations and precautions

You should be informed about vaccinations and what level of precautions to take when moving to Colombia, depending on the part of the country you're going to. For expats in the country, check with your doctor regarding booster vaccinations to keep your protection up to date.

Vaccinations for Colombia

All travellers going to Colombia should visit their doctor 4-6 weeks before their trip to get the required vaccinations .

The following is a list of routine vaccines which are crucial before every trip and include:

  • Yearly flu shot
  • Measles mumps rubella (MMR)
  • Diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine

It is strongly recommended that people visiting Colombia get hepatitis A and B vaccines.

You should also be up to date with your typhoid immunisations, especially if staying in rural areas and smaller cities. Consult your doctor before setting off, who can advise you on what vaccines and medication is recommended.

When travelling within Colombia, you should always wear insect repellent to help prevent mosquito bites which can cause malaria. In Colombia’s major cities, Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Cartagena, there is a low risk of malaria. In rural areas below 2,624ft (800m) malaria is more prevalent and anti-malaria drugs are generally recommended.

It is also advisable to sleep under a mosquito net and wear long, light coloured clothing to minimise your chances of being bitten.

Food and drink precautions

The quality of drinking water has improved enormously in Colombia over the past couple of decades. That said, like many countries in Latin America, water in rural areas is not safe to drink in Colombia and should be sterilised or boiled before consumption.

In major cities people do drink the water straight from the tap, but if you’re worried or have just arrived and want to give your digestive system time to adjust, bottled water is readily available.

In the first few weeks of being in Colombia you might not want to eat too many exotic foods that you are not used to, in order to minimise your chances of getting sick. This will give your stomach time to adjust to the new environment.

Meat should be always cooked properly and fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly and ideally peeled. Pay close attention when in rural areas, as food hygiene may not be as strict.

You can find more information on adapting to differing health needs abroad at Expat Health Tips: 

Further reading

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