The third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica regularly attracts tourists from all over the world. Beaches are the main draw, but rum, reggae and jerk chicken may do it for other folks. On the windward side of the mountains in Jamaica, you can expect a tropical climate. Tropical climates typically carry certain travel health risks. Is this the case for Jamaica? Let’s find out.
There are no vaccination requirements for entering the country, however there are several immunizations that any travel health doctor (throw us into the mix, too) will recommend:
- All your routine vaccinations – A no-brainer. You should be up to date with all of your routine vaccinations anyway. What are routine vaccinations? See our article covering this topic here. And please note, we include Hepatitis A and B vaccinations as part of the routine.
- Typhoid – Our good friend that makes it into your water or food via someone’s fecal matter. Yep, folks, that’s just how it works. Typhoid vaccination is a good idea before traveling to most developing world countries.
While there is no presence of Yellow Fever in Jamaica, you do need to have a vaccination if you are coming from a country where it is endemic. For example, if I was traveling from Ghana to Jamaica, I would need to present documentation of my Yellow Fever vaccination upon entry.
Cases of malaria are extremely rare in Jamaica, and most doctors will not prescribe prophylactics. Of course, you should always take precautionary measures to avoid insect bites (see our article on choosing mosquito repellant here).
Eating and drinking
Traveler’s diarrhea is a risk in almost any developing world country. There are a few best practices that you should adopt before traveling. Tap water is generally safe to drink in Jamaica, but if you find yourself in a rural area, stick with bottled water or travel with treatment supplies. When it comes to food, always be on the lookout for what looks hygienic and what doesn’t – general restaurant upkeep can be a good indication of how things are in the kitchen. Try to eat meals that are hot, cooked in front of you, and served immediately, whenever possible. Also, listen to recommendations from locals and other travelers.
Avoiding sun damage
The most significant health risk in Jamaica may come in the form of UVA and UVB rays from the sun. We have written extensively about how to choose a sunscreen, how to avoid sunburn and how to treat sunburn if you do find yourself spending too much time in the sun. Read this for starters.
– As always, you should wash your hands often, especially around meal times and before and after using the bathroom.
– The Caribbean has been in the news recently because of the Chikungunya Virus. You should pay attention to information from the CDC and the WHO to see the latest information on the spread of this disease. For the moment, it hasn’t had a significant impact in Jamaica.
– This may venture more into the territory of general safety, but if you do plan on spending time on the beach, take care when swimming. Cliff diving is a popular activity in certain areas of Jamaica. Make sure you know what you’re doing before jumping off of anything.
Finally, a word about travel insurance. Whether you are traveling for 2 days or 2 weeks, you should take out a travel insurance policy. You can read about our travel insurance tips and advice here.
Any experienced travelers to Jamaica reading this? Let’s hear from you in the comments. Let us know if there is anything else that should be on our radar.