Yellow Fever Vaccine - What You Need to Know
1. What is yellow fever?
Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by the yellow fever virus. It is found in certain parts of Africa and South America.
Yellow fever is spread through through the bite of an infected mosquito. It cannot be spread person to person by direct contact.
People with yellow fever disease usually have to be hospitalized. Yellow fever can cause:
- fever and flu like symptoms
- jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
- bleeding from multiple body sites
- liver,kidney, respiratory and other organ failure
- death (20%-50% of serious cases)
2. How can I prevent yellow fever?
Yellow fever vaccine can prevent yellow fever.
Yellow fever vaccine is given only at designated vaccination centre.
After getting the vaccine, you should be given a stamped and signed 'International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis" (yellow card). This certificate becomes valid 10 days after vaccination and is good for life.
You will need this card as proof of vaccination to enter certain countries. Travelers without proof of vaccination could be given the vaccine upon entry or detained for up to 6 days to amke sure they are not infected.
Discuss you itinerary with you doctor or nurse before you get your yellow fever vaccination. Consult your health department or visit CDC's travel information website at www.cdc.gov/travel to learn yellow fever vaccine requirements and recommendations for different countries.
Other preventive measures
Another way to prevent yellow fever is to avoid mosquitos bites by:
- staying in a well-screened or air-conditioned areas
- wearing clothes that cover most of your body,
- using as effective insert repellent, such as those containing DEET.
3. Yellow fever vaccine
Yellow fever vaccine is a live, weakened virus. It is given as a single shot. Yellow fever vaccine may be given at the same time as most other vaccines.
Who should get yellow fever vaccine?
Persons 9 months through 59 years of age traveling to or living in an area where risk of yellow fever is known to exist, or traveling to a country with an entry requirement for the vaccination.
Labratory personnel who might be exposed to yellow fever virus or vaccine virus.
Information for travelers can be found online through CDC, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.
You should not donate blood for 14 days following the vaccination, because there is a risk of transmitting the vaccine virus through blood products during that period.
4. Who should not get the yellow fever vaccine?
Anyone with severe or life-threathening allergy to any component of the vaccine, including eggs, chicken proteins, or gelatin, or who has a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of yellow fever vaccine should not get yellow fever vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
Infants younger than 6 months of age should not get the vaccine.
Tell your doctor if:
- You have HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system.
- Your immune system is weakened as a result of cancer or other medical conditions, a transplant, or radiation or drug treatment (such as steroids, cancer chemotherapy, or other drugs that affect immune cell function).
- Your thymus has been removed or you have thymus disorder, such as myasthenia gravis, DiGeorge syndrome, or thymoma.
Your doctor will help you decide whetehre you can recieve the vaccine.
Adults 60 years of age and older who cannot avoid travel to a yellow fever area should discuss vaccination with their doctor. They might be at an increased risk for severe problems following vaccination.
Infants 6 through 8 months of age, pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid or postpone travel to an area where there is risk of yellow fever. If travel cannot be avoided, discuss vaccination with your doctor.
If you cannot get the vaccine for medicalr easons, but require proof of yellow fever vaccination for travel, your doctor can give you a waiver letter if he/she considers the risk acceptably low. If you plan to use a waiver, you should also contact the embassy of the countries you plan to visit for more information.
5. What are the risks from yellow fever vaccine?
A vaccine, like any medicine, could cause a serious reaction. But the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely low.
Yellow fever vaccine has been associated with fever, and with aches, soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given.
These problems occur in up to 1 person out of 4. They usually begin soon after the shot, and can last up to a week.
- Severe allergic reaction to a vaccine component (about 1 person in 125,000)
- Severe nervous system reaction (about 1 person in 125,000)
- Life-threathening severe illness with organ failure (about 1 person in 250,000). More than half the people who suffer this side effect die.
6.What if there is a serious reaction?
What should I look for?
Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, behaviour changes, or flu-like symptoms that occur 1-30 days after vaccination.
Signs of severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
What should I do?
If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can't wait, call 000 or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
Afterward, the reaction should be report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS website at www.vaers.hhs.gov, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.
7. How can I learn more?
Ask your doctor.
Call your local or state health department.
Contact the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
- Visit CDC websites at www.cdc.gov/travel