Trip preparations: Bolivia
It’s almost time for me to fly off to South America. My itinerary is pretty much fleshed out now and most of the bookings are made. One thing that’s easy to overlook, though, is specific vaccination requirements. For Bolivia, the regulations concerning yellow fever have just changed.
As you’ll see from the map above, parts of Bolivia are affected, like much of South America, by yellow fever. Travelling to Uyuni and then La Paz, however, I’m not going to be venturing into yellow fever territory, so it’s tempting to think I wouldn’t need the vaccine. But early last month, a Danish traveller was found to have the disease. The National Health Director was quoted as saying: “This person came from another place and was not vaccinated.” There’d been an outbreak of yellow fever across the border in Brazil, but whether the Danish traveller had been there is unclear from the news reports. You can read Reuters’ report here:
What this means in practice is that from yesterday, 2nd March, all travellers entering Bolivia from a country which has a current outbreak of the disease or remains a risk area for it, must hold a valid yellow fever certificate. I’m travelling across the border from Argentina so that means me – even though I won’t have passed through yellow fever areas within Argentina. I’ll still need a certificate. That certificate would need to be issued at least 10 days before I’d be due to enter Bolivia. Potentially, without one, I could be refused entry at the border.
Even some transit passengers are likely to be affected. If you hub through an airport in a neighbouring country on your way to Bolivia, you could still be refused entry into Bolivia if you have cleared immigration and gone landside. That’s even if you never left the airport. Basically, the Bolivians are playing it safe and you can’t blame them for being cautious.
I’ll update this post in a couple of weeks to tell you if the certificate was requested by border officials or not. Fortunately, my jabs are up to date and the yellow fever certificate I needed to get into Panama a few years ago is still valid. But make sure you’re not caught out by this change in immigration requirements by seeking health from a medical professional before you embark on your trip.
At the land border between La Quiaca and Villazon, I was not asked for a yellow fever certificate.