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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Yellow Fever vaccine

What is it?

Yellow Fever is an acute infectious disease with symptoms that include jaundice, hemorrhages, and albumin in the urine. Yellow Fever is transmitted by the bite of a Yellow Fever-infected mosquito and occurs in South America and Africa. Twenty to fifty percent of cases with jaundice are fatal.

Yellow fever vaccine is an injectable attenuated live-virus vaccine. It contains no preservatives and is almost 100% effective at preventing infection with yellow fever.

  • Recommended for all individuals 9 months or older living in or traveling to endemic areas.
  • Required by International Health Regulations for travel to and from certain countries.

Immunization schedule for Yellow Fever

  • A single dose of vaccine is accepted by international authorities as providing protection for a period of at least ten years and may well confer life-long immunity.
  • Boosters may be given every 10 years, for purposes of both protecting the traveler and meeting entry requirements.

Possible side effects of the vaccine

  • Fever, headache, and muscle ache may occur 5-14 days after vaccination.
  • In rare instances, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) has developed in very young infants.

Warning! Those who should not take the vaccine:

  • Infants younger than 4 months of age should not be immunized, because they are at highest risk for encephalitis temporally associated with yellow fever vaccination.
  • The decision to immunize infants between 4 and 9 months of age should be based upon estimates of the infant's risk of exposure. For example, infants older than 4 months who must travel to an area of ongoing endemic or epidemic activity may receive the vaccine if a high degree of protection against mosquito exposure is not feasible.
  • History of anaphylaxis or proven sensitivity to egg or egg protein is usually a contraindication to yellow fever vaccine. However, according to AAP, less severe egg or feather allergies are not contraindications to administration of this vaccine and do not usually require skin testing.
  • To minimize potential adverse effects, vaccination should be postponed until recovery in persons with any moderate or severe illness, with or without fever.

Administration with other vaccines

  • Yellow fever and cholera vaccine should be given at least 3 weeks apart.
  • Compatibility with varicella vaccine is unknown at this time.
  • Travelers from the USA may receive yellow fever vaccine and immune globulin simultaneously without interference since yellow fever antibodies are rarely found in serum collected from individuals in this country.

Immunocompromised persons

The decision to immunize immunocompromised persons with yellow fever vaccine is based on assessment of the patient's risk of exposure and clinical status. This includes persons with HIV infection, AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma, generalized malignancy or who are receiving immune suppressing drugs.

Pregnancy and lactation
  • Pregnant women should not be vaccinated unless traveling to or residing in high-risk areas.
  • Breastfeeding mothers may receive yellow fever vaccine.
Reactions

If the person receiving the vaccine experiences any of the side effects listed above and visits a doctor, hospital, or clinic after vaccination, please report it to the Health Department at 206-296-4774.