Yellow Fever Vaccine

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Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers a wide range of vaccinations, including the yellow fever vaccine.

What is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a viral disease mainly present in Africa and South America. The virus that causes yellow fever is an RNA virus belonging to the genus Flavivirus. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, usually Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Mosquitoes carry the virus from primate to primate, including both humans and animal primates.

While the yellow fever virus is rare in many parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization yellow fever is currently endemic in tropical areas of Africa, Central America, and South America. Those who travel to these endemic areas are strongly advised to get vaccinated for yellow fever.

When a person is exposed to yellow fever virus, the virus incubates within the body for 3 to 6 days. Often people who are infected with the virus show no symptoms at all. Others will experience common mild symptoms that include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and chills. Most people who are infected with the virus experience these mild symptoms for 3 to 4 days, then recover, or they will show no symptoms at all.

In a small amount of those infected, however, symptoms can be extremely severe. People who experience these extreme symptoms will experience them about a day after seemingly recovering from mild yellow fever symptoms. Those with severe yellow fever can experience jaundice (the yellowing of the skin and eyes that gives “yellow fever” its name), dark urine, abdominal pain, vomiting, hepatitis, hemorrhagic fever, liver failure, kidney failure, respiratory failure, and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes, or stomach. About half of people who experience the toxic symptoms of severe yellow fever will die within 7 to 10 days, according to the WHO.

What is the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

The yellow fever vaccine, also called Stamaril, is a an extremely effective vaccination that provides protection against the yellow fever virus. This vaccine solution is made of a live, weakened form of the virus. Stamaril is delivered by a single injection. The injection provides protection against yellow fever for ten years or longer.

The yellow fever vaccine is required for entry to certain countries. These countries require proof of vaccination as a measure to prevent yellow fever outbreaks, which helps protect the health of their citizens.

To provide proof of the vaccination for travel, licensed providers of the vaccine give patients an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (also colloquially called a “yellow card”). This proof of vaccination must be presented by travelers at international entry points for entry into certain countries. Providing an International Certificate of Vaccination is also often required for those who have only spent time in an airport in a high risk country. Each travel vaccination certificate is valid for ten years, as the yellow fever vaccine lasts for ten years or more.

For those seeking the vaccine for travel reasons, note that the vaccination must be administered at least ten days before traveling to high risk areas.

Who Should Get the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

Those traveling to or living in high risk countries should get the yellow fever vaccine to protect their health and the health of those around them. The CDC recommends that all persons aged nine months or older who will be traveling to high risk areas receive the vaccine.

Those traveling to certain countries, such as Ghana and Brazil, are required to get the yellow fever vaccine to enter the country. Additionally, many countries that do not have a high risk of yellow fever require that travelers coming from high risk countries provide proof of vaccination for entry.

Those who should not get the yellow fever vaccine include people with weakened immune systems, people with a history of thymus disease, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, nursing mothers, people currently experiencing moderate to severe illness, people who have previously had a life-threatening allergic reaction the vaccine or any of its components, and people with an allergy or hypersensitivity to eggs, chicken, or gelatin.

Additionally, the vaccine is not always recommended for people 60 years of age or older. While the vaccine shows only very rare side-effects in people younger than age 60, people over the age of 60 have a higher risk of severe adverse events following immunization (AEFI). People over age 60 who want to get the yellow fever virus vaccination should consult with their doctor before being vaccinated.

Where Does Yellow Fever Occur? 

Yellow fever occurs in various parts of the world but is currently endemic in tropical areas of Africa, Central America, and South America. While these areas have the highest risk of yellow fever exposure, outbreaks are possible in many other areas.

Notably, there has been an ongoing outbreak of yellow fever in multiple parts of Brazil. All travelers to Brazil are now strongly advised to get the yellow fever vaccine and are advised to stay out of the country if unvaccinated.

While vaccination efforts have made yellow fever more rare than it was in the past, vaccination has been unable to totally reduce the presence of yellow fever in certain areas. A large part of the reason the yellow fever virus is still quite prevalent in many areas is that the virus can infect all primates. While humans can often control the spread of yellow fever in human populations through vaccination, vaccination efforts in humans do not stop the spread of the disease in other primates. Since mosquitoes can still easily spread the disease among other primates in areas with non-human primate populations (such as jungles), the risk for unvaccinated persons in those areas can still be extremely high, even if very few humans in the area have the disease.

Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers the yellow fever vaccine. To get vaccinated, call to make an appointment, make an appointment online, or come in for a walk-in appointment.

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