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Yellow Fever Vaccine: What You Need to Know

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 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:

How can I prevent yellow fever?

Yellow fever vaccine

Yellow fever vaccine can prevent yellow fever.

Yellow fever vaccine is given only at designated vaccination centers.

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 10 years.

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 make sure they are not infected.

Discuss your itinerary with your 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 mosquito bites by:

Yellow fever vaccine

Yellow fever vaccine is a live, weakened virus. It is given as a single shot. For people who remain at risk, a booster dose is recommended every 10 years.

Yellow fever vaccine may be given at the same time as most other vaccines.

Who should get yellow fever vaccine?

Information for travelers can be found online through CDC (www.cdc.gov/travel), the World Health Organization (www.who.int), and the Pan American Health Organization (www.paho.org).

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.

Who should not get yellow fever vaccine?

If you cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons, but require proof of yellow fever vaccination for travel, your doctor can give you a waiver letter if he 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

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.

Mild problems

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 in 4. They usually begin soon after the shot and can last up to a week.

Severe problems

These last two problems have never been reported after a booster dose.

What if there is a serious reaction?

What should I look for?

Signs of a 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?

VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.

How can I learn more?

Vaccine Information Statement

Yellow Fever Vaccine

(3/30/2011)

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See www.immunize.org/vis.

Muchas hojas de información sobre vacunas están disponibles en español y en otros idiomas. Visite www.immunize.org/vis.


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