In general, it’s best to take care of vaccines before you do any international travel so you can be sure you’re covered for everything ahead of time. But what happens when you find yourself abroad and in need of a vaccination?
I found myself in this position while visiting Argentina for the first time this year as part of a year long trip around the world. I had discussed the possibility of needing the yellow fever vaccine with my doctor before leaving my home country, but she had told me that, for Argentina, I only needed to get the vaccine if I was planning to see Iguazu Falls. I assured my doctor, and myself, that I didn’t have any plans of going there while I was in Argentina. Later, after arriving in Argentina and hearing so many people tell me I should see the waterfalls while I was there, I started to regret the decision I had made months before. I began to wonder if it was something I could take care of easily, midtrip.
At times it can be tricky to navigate the medical system and facilities of another country, especially if you don’t speak the language. But as I found out Buenos Aires, it doesn’t always have to be a challenge. Luckily for foreigners in need of the yellow fever vaccine, Buenos Aires has an easy process for getting the vaccine that is free for both residents and visitors.
In order to get your yellow fever vaccination in Argentina, you will need to reserve a time slot through the Argentine Ministry of Health and Social Development (Ministerio de Salud y Desarrollo Social). If you are planning to get the vaccine in Buenos Aires, you can reserve an appointment online by going directly to the webpage for appointments in Buenos Aires. (For appointments in other providences of the Argentina, find your city in the list. Online reservation may not be available for other cities outside of Buenos Aires.)
After arriving to the Buenos Aires page you should look for the link that says “Pedir turno extranjeros,” which is the link to request an appointment for foreigners. It is the second link below the green box on the right-hand side of the page. The link will take you to a page to select the site where you will go to receive the vaccination.
For the city of Buenos Aires, there is only one location. Select Capital Federal (for Buenos Aires city) in the first drop-down menu and Boca in second drop-down menu. If you are outside the city, in Buenos Aires providence, you can select Buenos Aires (for Buenos Aires providence) instead of Capital Federal in first list and your respective city in the second list. You will then select the office location which, for the city of Buenos Aires, will be the Sanidad de Fronteras located on Avenida Pedro de Mendoza. After selecting the appropriate site, click on the blue box.
A calendar will appear below on the same page where you can select the day that you would like an appointment. Then click on the blue box below the calendar to see the available time slots for that day. Appointments are Monday – Friday starting at 9:00 AM. The last appointment of the day is at 2:45 PM. Select the date and time that you would like and click on the green box at the bottom of the page.
Make sure you request an appointment that is at least 10 days before your trip to a yellow fever region so that the vaccine has enough time to take effect.
When I requested my appointment online, there were plenty of slots available for any of the days in the upcoming week. However, I received my yellow fever vaccination at the beginning of June, which is low season for tourism and traveling in Argentina. Scheduling during busier travel seasons may be more difficult so be sure to schedule your appointment as soon as possible to ensure that you can get in.
After you request a date and time, you will need to fill out the requested personal information, including passport number, and click on the green button that says “Confirmar.” You will receive a confirmation email from “Mi Argentina” that will confirm the time, date, and location of your appointment. Now you are all set to show up for your vaccination!
The vaccination will take place at the office of Sanidad de Fronteras (Border Health), which is located at the intersection of Avenida Pedro de Mendoza y 20 de Septiembre in the neighborhood of La Boca in Buenos Aires. The website lists the address as being at the intersection of Avenida Pedro de Mendoza with Juan Manuel Blanes, which is incorrect and is one block away from the actual location. This part of Avenida Pedro de Mendoza is directly underneath a raised freeway and the building is situated in the median area separating the two directions of traffic on the Avenida. There is no number associated with the address – it is only identified by the intersection of the two streets.
To arrive here, I took the #130 city bus from the city microcenter and it dropped me off very close to the building. After the appointment was over I had to walk a few blocks to the west to pick up the #130 heading back downtown. I was a little concerned about the location of the office, since La Boca is known for being the “seediest” part of Buenos Aires, but I didn’t find this area to be alarming in the middle of the afternoon. There were plenty of other people out walking around and I didn’t feel unsafe.
I arrived a few minutes early to my appointment and there were very few people there as I had booked the last appointment time of the day. I was able to walk right up to the desk where a man helped to check me in. I told him I had un turno (an appointment) and he asked to see my pasaporte (passport). Beyond that, it’s not really necessary to know anything else in Spanish in order to successfully check in.
Important: you must bring your passport with you in order to check into for your appointment.
After checking me in and asking me to have a seat, the gentlemen handed my passport over to another employee who filled out my official proof of vaccination form. This yellow form will show the date of your yellow fever vaccination and must be signed by the person administering the vaccine. It’s important to hold on to this this document and keep it safe as some countries may require proof of vaccination against yellow fever before entering the country.
I was given the completed form and my passport and then stood in the short line for no more than 5 or 10 ten minutes to receive my shot. The vaccination process itself was extremely fast and simple. It took no more than a couple of minutes – you don’t even have time to take a seat.
I couldn’t have spent more than 15 minutes total in the place and the whole process was much easier than I thought it would be. However, it’s probably important to consider that I went on a Tuesday afternoon at the last appointment time of the day during the winter month of June, which is the slow season for Argentina. I imagine that other months, days, or times could be much busier. The online appointment registration made the process very easy, and aside from needing to find your way through the site (which I’ve explained above!), there’s very little need to speak or understand Spanish. If you find yourself in need of the yellow fever vaccine in Argentina, don’t hesitate to take care of it while you’re in Buenos Aires.