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Yellow Fever Vaccine: Where to Get It and Why You Need It

What Is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a serious and potentially deadly viral disease that is most prevalent in certain parts of Africa and South America. The infection can range from mild to severe to fatal and most infected people will require hospitalization.

It is recommended the vaccine be given 4-6 weeks prior to travel.

Advanced planning is required for obtaining the vaccine as there is currently a limited supply of yellow fever vaccine throughout the United States.

How Does Yellow Fever Spread?

The virus can only be transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, therefore it is vital that, in addition to receiving a yellow fever shot, travelers take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses. It cannot be spread from person-to-person.

Symptoms of Yellow Fever

The most recognizable symptom of Yellow Fever is a yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), hence the name of the disease. Other symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Flu-like symptoms which may include muscle pains, headache, nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

About 15 percent of people who get yellow fever develop serious symptoms that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

Yellow Fever is not curable but it can be prevented with the vaccine, which contains a live, weakened virus and is given as a single injection. Boosters for the yellow fever shot may be recommended every 10 years for those who remain at risk or travel extensively.

The yellow fever vaccine is very safe and effective and is recommended for adults and children over 9 months who will be traveling to high-risk areas. Some countries require proof of yellow fever inoculation for entry. Other countries may also require proof of vaccination if the traveler is coming from a high risk country. Travelers only need to be vaccinated once during their lifetime.

The UH Travel Medicine Clinic will provide you with an International Certificate of Vaccination to certify that you have received the yellow fever vaccine. Be sure to keep this card with your other important documents when traveling.

Destinations That Require Yellow Fever Inoculation

  • Ghana
  • India (if entering from a high-risk country)

Yellow fever inoculation may also be recommended for those traveling to:

For more information about required vaccines and for a complete list of countries that require a yellow fever vaccine, please speak with the travel medicine specialists at the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health.