Do I Really Need a Yellow Fever Vaccine?

Have you ever found yourself planning a trip and at the last minute you realize that you missed a major detail? All of a sudden you are saying “oh my God! I cannot get into the country without a Yellow Fever vaccine!” So you wind up searching endlessly on Google to find a nearby travel clinic that can give you the shot today because you are leaving in two days, and as you are frantically searching for a place, a thought comes to you. “Do I really need a Yellow Fever vaccine?”

We have all been there. Some of us have planned trips to the Amazon with plans to hike and camp and catch our dinner, without ever giving second thought to Yellow Fever or even Malaria for that matter. So for those of us who never really understood why the vaccine is important, here is Yellow Fever summed up in a few sentences.

Yellow Fever occurs in tropical sub-Saharan Africa and in the rainforests of tropical South America. Transmitted by infected mosquitoes, Yellow Fever infection causes fever, severe liver issues, acute kidney problems, bleeding, and shock. Case fatality is 10% to 50% in the indigenous population in an endemic area but approaches 90% in unimmunized travelers.

So back to the original question, “do I really need a Yellow Fever vaccine?” In most cases, the answer is, yes! As not all patients are eligible to receive the Yellow Fever vaccine, consult with your travel health professional prior to any international travel to understand your risk and how to protect yourself.

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