yellow fever vaccine

Pronunciation: YEL oh FEE ver

Brand: YF-Vax

What is the most important information I should know about yellow fever vaccine?

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

What is yellow fever vaccine?

Yellow fever vaccine is recommended for people who plan to live in or travel to areas where yellow fever is known to exist, or those who are otherwise at high risk of coming into contact with the virus.

This vaccine is used to help prevent yellow fever. The vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the virus, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

You should receive the vaccine at least 10 days prior to your arrival in an area where you may be exposed to the virus.

This vaccine is also recommended for people who work in a research laboratory and may be exposed to yellow fever virus through needle-stick accidents or inhalation of viral droplets in the air.

Like any vaccine, the yellow fever vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving yellow fever vaccine?

You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a yellow fever vaccine, or if you have:

  • an allergy to eggs or chicken proteins;
  • cancer, leukemia, or lymphoma;
  • a weak immune system caused by disease (such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS), or by taking certain medicines such as steroids;
  • a disorder such as myasthenia gravis;
  • a disease or tumor of the thymus gland, or if your thymus gland has been surgically removed; or
  • if you have received a transplant.

Children younger than 9 months should not receive yellow fever vaccine.

If you have a high risk of exposure to yellow fever, you may need to receive the vaccine even if you have an allergy to eggs or chicken products. Your doctor can give you the vaccine in several small doses to avoid an allergic reaction.

In special cases, a doctor or health official may determine that an adult 60 years and older should receive a yellow fever vaccine.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • a seizure;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine);
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia; or
  • Guillain Barré syndrome.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

Vaccines may be harmful to an unborn baby and generally should not be given to a pregnant woman. However, not vaccinating the mother could be more harmful to the baby if the mother becomes infected with a disease that this vaccine could prevent. Your doctor will decide whether you should receive this vaccine, especially if you have a high risk of infection with yellow fever.

Ask a doctor if it is safe to breastfeed after receiving this vaccine. Do not breastfeed if the child is less than 9 months old.

How is yellow fever vaccine given?

This vaccine is given under the skin. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or other clinic setting.

One dose of yellow fever vaccine provides long lasting protection to most people. An additional dose may be given to people that did not have an adequate immune response and continue to be at risk of exposure to yellow fever. Your individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

After receiving the vaccine, you will be given an International Certificate of Vaccination (yellow card) from the clinic where you receive your yellow fever vaccine. You will need this card as proof of vaccination to enter certain countries. This card becomes valid 10 days after you receive the vaccination and remains valid for 10 years.

Yellow fever vaccine may cause false results on a blood test for rabies or Japanese encephalitis. Tell any doctor who treats you if you have recently received a yellow fever vaccine.

In addition to receiving yellow fever vaccine, use protective clothing, insect repellents, and mosquito netting around your bed to further prevent mosquito bites that could infect you with the yellow fever virus.

If you continue to travel or live in areas where yellow fever is common, you may receive a booster dose of yellow fever vaccine at least 10 years after your initial dose.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Talk with your doctor if you are receiving this vaccine less than 10 days prior to your arrival in an area where you may be exposed to the yellow fever virus.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving yellow fever vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

What are the possible side effects of yellow fever vaccine?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; wheezing, chest tightness, difficult breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first vaccine. Keep track of all side effects that occur within 30 days after you receive this vaccine. If you ever need a booster dose, you will need to tell your doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.

Seek medical attention right away if you have any of these symptoms similar to yellow fever that may occur within 10 days after vaccination:

  • fever, headache, confusion, extreme tiredness;
  • muscle pain or weakness;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding;
  • little or no urination; or
  • vomiting, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Becoming infected with yellow fever is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these rare but serious side effects within 10 days after you receive the vaccine:

  • high fever, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light;
  • extreme tiredness, neck stiffness, seizure;
  • problems with walking, breathing, speech, swallowing, vision, or eye movement;
  • weakness or prickly feeling in your fingers or toes;
  • severe pain (especially at night); or
  • loss of bladder or bowel control.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults.

Common side effects may include:

  • fever;
  • vomiting, nausea;
  • headache;
  • joint or muscle pain;
  • tiredness or weakness; or
  • pain, discomfort, redness, swelling, or a hard lump (induration) where the infection was given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect yellow fever vaccine?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • steroid medicine;
  • cancer treatments;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect this vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

Your vaccination provider, pharmacist, or doctor can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.