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Yellow Fever Vaccine

What Is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a virus that is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

Risk factors for getting yellow fever include traveling to an area where yellow fever is present.

Symptoms for yellow fever include:

  • High fever
  • Chills and muscle aches
  • Yellowing of the skin, known as jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Backache

More serious complications include:

Treatment involves taking care of the infected person while they recover. There is no medication to treat the illness.

Illness from yellow fever varies from a self-limited illness to hemorrhagic fever, which can be very severe and lead to death.

What Is the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

The vaccine is a weakened, live form of the yellow fever virus. The vaccine is created by growing the live virus in a lab. The vaccine is administered by a shot.

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

Vaccination is the best way to prevent yellow fever. The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for those who are traveling to or living in areas where the disease is present. Your doctor will help you decide if the vaccine is right for you. The vaccine may be inappropriate for certain individuals.

What Are the Risks Associated With Yellow Fever Vaccine?

Common minor side effects include:

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

Rare, serious side effects include:

  • Nervous system reaction
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Organ failure

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

The vaccine should not be given to:

  • Infants aged six months or younger—In rare cases when your 6-8 month-old baby must travel to high-risk areas, talk to the doctor about the vaccine.
  • People over the age of 60 are at higher risk for serious complications. If you are traveling to an area of yellow fever risk, consult an infectious disease specialist to find out if vaccination is a good choice for you.
  • People who:
    • Are severely allergic to eggs, chicken, or gelatin
    • Have a disease that weakens the immune system, such as HIV infection—If you are traveling to high-risk areas, talk to your doctor about the vaccine.
    • Are receiving treatments that weaken the immune system, such as cancer treatment
    • Have cancer
    • Have problems with the thymus or have had their thymus removed
    • Are pregnant—Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the vaccine if you are traveling to a high-risk area. If you are vaccinated, your doctor may use a blood test to confirm immunity.
    • Are breastfeeding—If you are traveling to high-risk areas, talk to your doctor about the vaccine.

What Other Ways Can Yellow Fever Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

To decrease your chance of getting yellow fever:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Stay in screened areas

What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

An outbreak of yellow fever in the United States is unlikely since the virus is not geographically present in this country. But, in the event of an outbreak, uninfected people would be vaccinated and precautions would be taken to reduce transmission.

Revision Information

  • WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

  • Vaccine and Immunizations

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines

  • World Health Organization

    http://www.who.int

  • Jentes ES, Poumerol G, Gershman MD, et al. The revised global yellow fever risk map and recommendations for vaccination, 2010: consensus of the Informal WHO Working Group on Geographic Risk for Yellow Fever. Lancet Infect Dis. 2011;11(8):622-632.

  • Khromava AY, Eidex RB, Weld LH, et al. Yellow Fever Vaccine Safety Working Group. Yellow fever vaccine: an updated assessment of advanced age as a risk factor for serious adverse events. Vaccine. 2005;23(25):3256-63.

  • 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 T. 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: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines. Updated May 19, 2014. Accessed June 19, 2014.

  • Vaccine Education Center. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at: http://www.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/home.html. Updated March 2013. Accessed June 14, 2014.

  • Yellow fever vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 20, 2013. Accessed June 19, 2014.

  • Yellow fever VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/yf.html. Updated June 18, 2013. Accessed June 19, 2014.

  • 2/19/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Transmission of yellow fever vaccine virus through breast-feeding—Brazil, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2010;59(05):130.

  • 5/28/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: World Health Organization. Weekly Epidemiological Record. 2013 May 17; 88 (20): 201-16. Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Available at: http://www.who.int/wer/2013/wer8820/en/index.html. Accessed June 19, 2014.