Health Library

Yellow Fever Vaccine

What Is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus. A mosquito passes the virus to you through a bite on your skin.

Your risk is higher if you live in or travel to places where yellow fever is common.

Some people do not have problems. If symptoms appear, they may involve:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Yellowing of the skin—jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Backache

Serious problems may include:

The goal of care is to ease symptoms. There are no medicines to treat the illness.

What Is the Yellow Fever Vaccine?    TOP

The shot comes from a weakened, live form of the virus made in a lab.

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?    TOP

A shot is the best way to avoid yellow fever. You may need it if you live in or travel to places where it's common.

What Are the Risks Associated With Yellow Fever Vaccine?    TOP

Common minor reactions may involve:

  • Fever
  • Soreness, swelling , or redness at the shot site
  • Muscle aches

Rare, serious reactions may involve:

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?    TOP

Some people shouldn't get the shot and may include:

  • Babies aged 6 months and younger
  • Adults aged 60 years and older
  • Those who have :
    • Serious allergies to eggs, chicken, or gelatin.
    • A disease that weakens immunity
    • Care that weakens immunity
    • Problems with the thymus or have had it removed
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are in a high-risk group and need the vaccine, talk to your doctor about the risks. Your doctor can test your blood for signs of immunity.

What Other Ways Can Yellow Fever Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?    TOP

To help lower your chances of yellow fever:

  • Stay in places with screens or air conditioning.
  • Cover your skin with long clothes, socks, and shoes.
  • Use bug sprays that contain DEET.
  • Use mosquito netting treated with bug spray.
  • Keep in mind mosquitoes are more active during early morning, late afternoon, and early evening.
  • Tip out standing water in buckets, flower pots, or other containers. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.

What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?    TOP

Yellow fever isn’t present in the US, so an outbreak isn’t likely. If one occurs, people without yellow fever would get the shot to lower the chance of getting it from others.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov
World Health Organization
http://www.who.int

References:

Khromava AY, Eidex RB, Weld LH, et al. Yellow fever vaccine: an updated assessment of advanced age as a risk factor for serious adverse events. Vaccine. 2005;23(25):3256-3263.
Staples JE, Gershman M, Fischer M, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yellow fever vaccine: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 2010;59(RR-7):1-27.
Thomas RE, Lorenzetti DL, Spragins W, Jackson D, Williamson Tl. Active and passive surveillance of yellow fever vaccine 17D or 17DD-associated serious adverse events: systematic review. Vaccine. 2011;29(28):4544-4555.
Vaccines & immunizations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html. Updated April 23, 2018. Accessed May 14, 2018.
Vaccine Education Center. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 2013. Accessed May 14, 2018.
World Health Organization. Weekly Epidemiological Record. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013;88(20):201-216.
Yellow fever travel information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/yellow-fever-information. Updated March 16, 2018. Accessed May 14, 2018.
Yellow fever vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated April 18, 2018. Accessed May 14, 2018.
Yellow fever VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/yf.html. Updated October 18, 2016. Accessed May 14, 2018.
2/19/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114530/Yellow-fever: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Transmission of yellow fever vaccine virus through breast-feeding—Brazil, 2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59(05):130-132.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP

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