Yellow Fever Vaccine: Protection For The Mosquito Magnet In Your Life
If you consider yourself a mosquito magnet then you’re not alone. Mosquitos absolutely love me (maybe because I am just so sweet). I always need to use really good insect precautions when I travel. Luckily there are vaccines for some mosquito borne diseases, including the potentially serious and fatal yellow fever disease. I was sure to receive this vaccine before my travels to Africa. Besides countries in Africa, yellow fever can also be a risk in South America and some countries even require proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter the country or to visit certain areas of the country (e.g. National parks in Colombia). In this blog I’ll tell you more about yellow fever and if you need the vaccine for your next trip.
Yellow fever infection
Yellow fever is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically bites during the daytime. Many people infected with yellow fever do not have symptoms. If symptoms develop, they usually include fever, chills, headache, backache, muscle aches, weakness, nausea, and vomiting. Most people recover, but about 12% of people infected with yellow fever can develop more serious symptoms including jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), bleeding from multiple body sites, liver, kidney, respiratory and other organ failure, and death (30% – 50% of severe cases).
Yellow fever risk areas
In Africa there is yellow fever risk in parts of or all of the following countries:
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Rep.
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Dem. Rep. Of the Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Republic of the Congo
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
In South America there is yellow fever risk in parts of or all of the following countries:
- French Guiana
- Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad only)
Unvaccinated individuals should avoid travel to areas where yellow fever is a risk.
The yellow fever vaccine
The yellow fever vaccine is safe and effective and generally provides protection for life. After receiving the yellow fever vaccine an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis is provided which is required for entry by certain countries. The certificate is valid beginning 10 days after vaccination. Older yellow fever certificates that indicate 10-year validity are now automatically valid for life.
The vaccine can be given to adults and children 9 months of age and older. Common side effects are usually mild and can include headache, muscle aches and fever. Serious reactions to the vaccine, including organ failure or neurologic disease, are extremely rare. For this reason, people who are severely immunosuppressed should not receive the yellow fever vaccine.
People ≥60 years of age may be at increased risk for a serious reaction to the vaccine, particularly if receiving the vaccine for the first time ever. The risk of a severe reaction in people ≥60 years of age is 7.7 per 100,000 doses administered, compared with 3.8 per 100,000 for all YF vaccine recipients. The yellow fever vaccine has safely been given to many people ≥60 years of age who will be at risk for yellow fever disease. The experienced consultants at TravelSafe Clinic will weigh the risks and benefits of the vaccine based on your travel plans. If the risk of the disease is relatively low and we determine that you should not receive the vaccine due to medical reasons or age, we will provide a yellow fever waiver if proof of vaccination is needed for travel.
Yellow fever vaccine shortage
There was previously a yellow fever vaccine shortage so many travellers received a partial dose of the vaccine which provided 12 months protection instead of life. The yellow fever vaccine shortage has ended, and the vaccine is back in regular stock. All travellers needing the yellow fever vaccine will receive a full dose providing lifetime protection.
What should you do if you are travelling to Africa or South America?
Book your pre-travel consultation at TravelSafe Clinic as soon as possible. We will review your itinerary, vaccine history, and medical history to determine if the yellow fever vaccine is recommended for you.
Don’t let yellow fever put a hiccup in your travel plans! Plan ahead and book your appointment today! Call us at 604-251-1975 or complete the online booking formto book your appointment.
Kristin Cain, RN, BSc, MSc(A) – TravelSafe Clinical Nurse Educator, Nurse Consultant and unlucky mosquito magnet.