Yellow fever vaccination: Are you eligible?

Yellow fever vaccination, though very important (as a method of preventing yellow fever), is not safe for everyone.

Those who are ineligible for yellow fever vaccination include:

  • Pregnant women (they are given only when there is an outbreak and the chances of getting infected are high).
  • Women who are breastfeeding.
  • Individuals who have severe immunodeficiency due to conditions like HIV/AIDS.
  • Children who are less than 9 months of age (they are given only when there is an outbreak, making the chances of them getting infected high in which case children who are 6-9 months old should be vaccinated).
  • People who have severe life-threatening allergies to eggs, gelatin, chicken, any component of the vaccine or a yellow fever vaccine in the past.
  • People who have had organ transplants.
  • Individuals who have cancers.
  • Individuals who are receiving treatment for cancer (because this treatment weakens their immune system).
  • Persons who have a thymus disorder that is associated with immune function that is abnormal.

Interesting facts about yellow fever vaccination:

  • The vaccine is very safe, effective and is affordable. It gives lifelong immunity and protection from yellow fever. For 99% of those who are vaccinated, the vaccine provides strong immunity within 30 days of administration.  It gives lifelong protection and immunity to the disease. Very rarely, reports of serious side effects to the vaccine have been reported. The side effects usually affect the nervous system, the kidneys and liver. But these side effects are very rare; out of every 100,000 people that receive the vaccine, only 0.4 to 0.8 (less than one) of them have these side effects. There is increased risk of serious side effects to the vaccine for those who are immunodeficient (for instance, those who have symptomatic HIV/AIDS), as well as people who are older than 60 years.
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required of travellers headed for areas endemic for yellow fever, to prevent travellers who visited those areas from contracting the infection, and spreading it when they go on to countries where yellow fever is not common.
  • The yellow fever vaccine should be given to anyone who is aged 9 months old and above that lives in or is travelling to an area where yellow fever is common.
  • The vaccine should be taken minimum of 10 days before travelling to an area where the disease occurs. This is because during that period of time allowed between vaccination and travelling, the body is able to develop its protection against the yellow fever virus.
  • The vaccine is given as one injection. A booster dose is usually not necessary, even though some countries require that you take a booster dose before you are allowed entry (to ensure protection from the virus).
  • The aims of yellow fever vaccination are: To protect the health of residents of yellow fever-endemic areas, as well as, the health of persons travelling to such areas; and to prevent countries that do not have yellow fever from getting it from infected travellers to their region.
  • The side effects of the yellow fever vaccine include muscle ache, headache and mild fever.
Somso Kizor enjoys words. She loves reading good books and writing - amongst other things. Somso is passionate about educating people about their health; as this would reduce the burden of diseases and deaths (hence, suffering) all over the world. Let's not forget the popular saying that goes "health is wealth." For more details, send an email to