Yellow Fever Vaccine

What does the yellow fever vaccine do?

The yellow fever vaccine can prevent yellow fever and is given only at designated vaccination centers. After getting the vaccine, you should receive a stamped and signed “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis” (yellow card). This certificate becomes valid ten days after vaccination and is valid 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 six days to make sure they are not infected.

How many doses will I need?

The yellow fever vaccine is a live, weakened virus that is given as a single shot or a single dose.

Who is the vaccine recommended for?

  • Those who are nine months of age through 59 years of age and are traveling to or living in an area where yellow fever is known to exist (such as the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America)
  • Those going to a country with an entry requirement for the vaccine including, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, French Guiana, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Suriname, and Togo
  • Laboratory personnel who might be exposed to the yellow fever virus or vaccine virus

Who should not get the vaccine?

  • Anyone with a life-threatening allergy to any component of the vaccine including eggs, chicken protein, or gelatin
  • Anyone who has had a severe reaction to a previous dose
  • Infants younger than six months of age
  • Individuals living with HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system, such as cancer
  • Individuals whose immune systems have weakened as a result of cancer or other medical conditions, transplants, radiation, or drug treatment such as steroids or chemotherapy
  • Anyone who has had their thymus removed or is living with a thymus disorder, such as myasthenia gravis, DiGeorge syndrome, or thymoma

Are there any side effects or risks associated with the vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, can cause a severe reaction. However, the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely low. Mild problems associated with the yellow fever vaccine include fever, body aches, soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. These problems usually begin soon after receiving the vaccine and can last up to a week. Serious issues, although rare, can include severe allergic reactions to a vaccine component, nervous system reaction, and a life-threatening illness with organ failure.