CDC Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel

Bahamas Travel Alert Updated by the CDC

CDC says avoid nonessential travel to affected parts of the Bahamas
2 cruise ships outside a tropical port
Caribbean (Vax Before Travel)

A Level 3 Travel Alert has been updated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

As of January 3, 2020, the CDC recommended US residents avoid nonessential travel to certain affected areas of The Bahamas, including the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island.

Parts of The Bahamas, including the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island, have been severely affected by Hurricane Dorian.

US residents should avoid nonessential travel to affected parts of The Bahamas.

Affected by Hurricane Dorian during September 2019, visitors to the Bahamas may experience serious health/safety risks and medical care may be limited or unavailable.

And, reduced access to safe water, food, and shelter in some areas may create conditions for outbreaks of infectious diseases.

The CDC says ‘if you must travel to the Bahamas, consider these action items:

  • Make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist or your health care provider to get needed vaccines and medicines, including vaccines against tetanus, hepatitis A, and seasonal flu.
  • Pack a travel health kit with your prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines, first aid supplies, and your health insurance card.
  • Authorized humanitarian aid workers may need to pack additional items, including personal protective equipment, which may be scarce at their destination.
  • US citizens should enroll online in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security updates and information about assistance in an emergency.
  • Leave copies of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home, in case they are lost during travel.
  • Buy travel health and medical evacuation insurance. If you are injured or get sick during your trip, medical care is likely to be unavailable.’

Previously, the CDC updated travel vaccine suggestions for The Bahamas on August 2, 2019. The CDC suggests various preventive vaccines, such as measles, Hepatitis A, and Typhoid vaccinations prior to traveling abroad.

The Bahamas is also included in the CDC’s updated worldwide Measles Alert, reissued on January 3, 2020.

And recently, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) includes The Bahamas in a Dengue outbreak notice.

This updated CDC Travel Alert is unfortunate news since The Bahamas has experienced an increase in tourism recently.

According to government statistics, Grand Bahama received 670,000 visitors in 2018, the vast majority arriving on cruise ships. 

And, the Nassau and Paradise Island hotel industry reported a spike in average daily room rates, up 34 percent in one year.

To alert international travelers of their security risks when visiting The Bahamas, the US Department of State reissued a Level 2 Travel Advisory on November 26, 2019.   

This ‘Exercise Increased Caution’ advisory by the State Department indicates that visitors to The Bahamas are experiencing various types of ‘crime.’

Additionally, the Canadian and UK governments issued similar Travel Advisories during 2019. 

Specifically, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Bahama’s northwest islands. There have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Freeport. 

This FCO advisory suggests visitors to The Bahamas ‘be vigilant at all times and don’t walk alone away from the main hotels, tourist areas, beaches, and downtown Nassau, particularly after dark.’ 

Moreover, ‘Take care if traveling on local bus services after dusk on routes away from the main tourist areas.’

Previously, the UK's National Travel Health Network and Center reported 'risks of the Zika virus in The Bahamas during 2019. The details of specific affected areas within the Bahamas are not available. The UK suggests pregnant women avoid traveling to the Bahamas until after the pregnancy.

In the event that travel is unavoidable, the pregnant women must be informed of the risks which the Zika virus presents to unborn children, such as Microcephaly.

As of December 2019, the leading states in the USA reporting travel-related Zika cases are California (39) and Florida (36). And, Florida’s Health Department says it ‘is monitoring a total of 23 pregnant women infected with Zika during 2019.’

Separately, the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories for The Bahamas was last updated on October 1, 2019, which says 'Avoid Nassau’s “over the hill” (south of Shirley Street) and Fish Fry (Arawak Cay) areas, especially at night.'

Furthermore, the Canadian government says 'sexual assault occurs frequently in The Bahamas, particularly near hotels, in hotel rooms, in casinos, on cruise ships, and on the beach. Reported incidents are on the rise in Nassau, including on Paradise Island. And, be wary when embarking on jet-ski rides with licensed or unlicensed operators, as several incidents of sexual assault have been reported.

The Bahamas travel vaccine news published by Vax Before Travel


Our Trust Standards: Medical Advisory Committee

Article by
Dani Reiter