Yellow fever vaccination information and yellow fever vaccine guide for overseas travel to endemic zones including travel medicine advice for visitors to central Africa and South America. Immunisation precautions and information on live virus vaccinations.
Yellow Fever Vaccine And Yellow Fever Vaccination Guide
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Yellow Fever Vaccinations

The yellow fever vaccine is an attenuated, live-virus preparation of the 17D strain of yellow fever virus grown in leucosis-free chick embryos. A single dose correctly given confers immunity in 100% of recipients, and immunity persists for at least 10 years. Re-immunisation is currently recommended after 10 years.

This vaccination is given as a single injection given subcutaneously. If a country requires the vaccine for entry, travellers must allow at least 10 days before entering the country for vaccination.

If other live-virus vaccines are necessary for travel (for example MMR, Chickenpox), they should be completed on the same day as the yellow fever vaccination or one month apart.

This vaccine is a safe and highly effective vaccine against this deadly disease. Over 400 million doses of vaccine have been given over 60 years.

  • 200,000 cases of Yellow Fever are estimated to occur yearly on this planet.
  • There is no known treatment to cure the disease.
  • The fatality rate of the disease is reported as 10-50%.
  • Deaths from Yellow Fever disease have occurred in unvaccinated tourists.

Vaccination Certificates

There are different types of yellow fever entry requirements. While many countries have no requirements, others may require an International Certificate of Vaccination from travellers:

  • Coming from all countries to an infected or endemic zone
  • Coming from countries or areas that lie in the endemic zone
  • Coming from infected countries or infected areas
  • Coming from countries that are maintained on a list and regarded as infected although some may not actually be infected, nor even lie in the endemic zone

Side Effects

Reports of serious side effects are extremely rare and generally include fever, headache, and muscle ache. The risks of vaccination are not zero and the current best estimates of the risk from yellow fever vaccination are:

    Mild Side Effects

    • Most people will get a slight sore arm
    • 2-10% may feel tired, headache, muscle aches, fever for 24 hours starting 3-9 days after the vaccine
    • 1% need to curtail regular activities

    More Serious Side Effects

    • 1 in 130,000 will get immediate hypersensitivity rash, itching faint or asthma this is why you need to wait 30 minutes in the clinic
    • 0.09-2.5 per million will get inflammation of multiple organs e.g. lungs, kidney, liver, spleen, skin, blood stream
    • 1 in 8 million will get encephalitis ( inflammation of the brain )

There have been a few deaths reported from the more serious side effects of the vaccine, but this seems a more common in those over 70 years age.

After vaccination, you need to remain at the clinic for half an hour in case you have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). This reaction is rare (about one in a million), but may be very serious. It can be easily treated at the clinic, but is not so easy to treat if it happens while you are driving home.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • feeling warm
  • feeling itchy (or developing a rash) away from the injection site
  • feeling faint (especially on standing up) or dizzy
  • a shortness of breath, or a wheeze or cough developing
  • swelling in the throat, face, hands or limbs
  • sudden tiredness

Symptoms usually develop within 30 minutes of vaccination, hence the need to wait in the clinic after receiving the Yellow Fever vaccine.

Occasionally allergic symptoms may occur up to 10 days later. If you develop one or more of the above symptoms within 10 days, immediately call your doctor or go to the nearest casualty department or well equipped medical centre.

Who Should Not Use The Vaccine?

Children younger than 4 months of age, people who have had a previous severe reaction to the vaccine and those who are extremely allergic to eggs should not receive this vaccine. Infants aged 4 to 12 months should only receive the vaccine under unavoidable, high-risk circumstances.

Persons who have a moderate illness (with or without a fever) should postpone receiving this vaccine until they are well.

The following circumstances may increase your risk of reacting badly to the Yellow Fever Vaccine. It is extremely important you notify the staff member if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are allergic to eggs
  • You have had an adverse reaction to Yellow Fever Vaccine before
  • You are, or could be, HIV positive or have AIDS
  • You suffer from a serious weakness of the immune system
  • You have cancer, are taking drugs to control cancer, or are undergoing chemotherapy
  • You have any major liver or kidney disease
  • You are currently taking steroid drugs or cortisone. Recent injections into a joint and steroid asthma puffers are NOT a problem.
  • You are pregnant, or could be pregnant now or in the next two weeks

Whether you are going overseas as a seasoned traveller, or for the first-time, you want to make sure you really enjoy yourself.

Visit the Travel Doctor Brisbane for vaccinations, travel health and medical advice for travel overseas. Don't let vacation illness or holiday injury spoil your travel plans


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