Yellow Fever is a serious and potentially fatal viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes in tropical parts of Africa and South America. It occurs in both jungle and urban environments and is particularly common in the rainy season.
About the vaccine
- When to get vaccinated: At least 10 days before you travel.
- Boosters: The yellow fever vaccine lasts a lifetime. Most people won’t need any boosters for future travel.
- Course: One dose.
- How it is given: The yellow fever vaccine consists of an injection usually given in your upper arm.
- How long does the Yellow Fever vaccine last? The yellow fever vaccine protect you for life (there are some exceptions, such as under 2 year olds who may need a booster)
- Side effects: Serious side effects from the yellow fever vaccine are rare. Common side effects include soreness at the injection site, headache and pain.
- Children: Not usually recommended for children under nine months.
- Additional precautions: In addition to getting vaccinated you need to practise mosquito bite avoidance.
- Certificate requirements: Some countries require a yellow fever certificate. Your certificate becomes valid 10 days after you have had the jab.
- Risk if you contract yellow fever: Yellow fever can range from a mild flu-like illness to a fatal disease which causes internal bleeding and organ
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The yellow fever jab is available at your local Superdrug travel health clinic, which is a registered yellow fever centre. You need to arrange your vaccine for a date at least ten days before you travel. Once you have received the vaccine, you are protected for life (there are some exceptions to this rule, under 2 year olds for example may need a booster).
Please note that a four week minimum interval period should ideally be observed between the administration of MMR and Yellow Fever vaccines to ensure these are effective. If you think you need protection from yellow fever urgently and leaving this gap may not be possible, please talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for advice.
Yellow fever certificate
A number of countries require a yellow fever certificate, which is called the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). Other risk destinations may not ask you for a certificate, but if visiting a risk area you still need to have the vaccination. Please bear in mind, your yellow fever certificate will only become valid ten days after the injection.
Yellow fever certificates used to expire after a certain number of years. However, they are now valid for life for most people. This includes certificates which were issued before this rule changed in July 2016 and which have an expiry date on them.
If you have been vaccinated at one of our clinics and have lost your yellow fever certificate, our staff will be able to issue a replacement card. We charge an admin fee of £15 for issuing a new yellow fever certificate.
You do not need to pay extra for your first certificate if you receive the jab at one of our clinics.
Most vaccinations can cause side effects in some patients. The yellow fever vaccine is no exception and you may experience side effects such as headache, muscle pain and fever in the days after you have received the jab. You may also notice swelling or redness at the injection site, which should resolve within two weeks. If you experience any other concerning side effects or do not get better within two weeks, seek medical advice.
Seek urgent medical attention immediately if you notice signs of an allergic reaction after receiving the jab. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include skin rash or hives, swellings and difficulty breathing, as well as feeling weak or faint.
What is yellow fever?
The World Health Organisation reports that there are about 84,000 – 170,000 severe cases of yellow fever a year, resulting in 29,000 – 60,000 deaths. The most important step in preventing yellow fever is a yellow fever vaccination prior to travel.
Yellow fever is a viral infection, which is passed on by a particular type of mosquito. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the virus, occurs primarily in African and South American countries. The mosquito’s bite leads to infection and the typical symptoms of yellow fever, which include fever, vomiting or nausea, headache, muscle pains and a characteristic yellowing of the whites of the eyes (also known as jaundice). Yellow fever is not passed from person to person.
Yellow fever increases the risk of dehydration and can be very dangerous. It can cause haemorrhagic fever (which causes bleeding from the mouth, eyes, ears and stomach) as well as multi organ failure. The virus causes an estimated 29,000 – 60,000 deaths worldwide every year and affects over 170,000 patients. 20% – 50% of yellow fever patients who suffer severe symptoms die of the infection.
The diagnosis of yellow fever involves a blood test, as the symptoms of yellow fever are very similar to those caused by other tropical diseases. There is no specific yellow fever treatment. In mild cases, patients usually rely on painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication to alleviate the symptoms. In severe cases, hospital treatment is needed.
If you are planning to visit a country where yellow fever is endemic, you need to visit a Superdrug yellow fever centre for a vaccination. The nurse or pharmacist will assess whether the vaccine is suitable for you.
Yellow fever countries
Yellow fever is currently known to affect people living in or travelling to 43 countries located on the African continent as well as South America.
African nations known to have a high occurrence of yellow fever include most central African nations, for example the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso.
Travellers planning a trip to South America should consider a yellow fever vaccine if travelling to Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia or Venezuela.
Please note: The countries which are considered risk countries are constantly changing. For up to date information on the vaccines you need for your destination, search for the country here.
Yellow fever prevention
In addition to a timely yellow fever vaccination, you should protect yourself from mosquito bites while you are abroad.
Using a mosquito repellent and wearing long sleeved-tops as well as long trousers will deter mosquitoes and reduce your risk of catching an infection. You may also wish to take a mosquito coil or plug-in device with you, to use in your accommodation.
By avoiding swamps and other mosquito breeding grounds, you can minimise your exposure to insect bites. Ideally, you should stay in places with air conditioning or at least insect mesh screening in front of all windows.