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yellow fever vaccine

Pronunciation: YEL oh FEE ver

Brand: YF-Vax

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

Yellow fever vaccine is for use in adults and children who are at least 9 months old. The vaccine is given every 10 years to people who are 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).

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.

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

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

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.

What is yellow fever vaccine?

Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by a virus that is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Yellow fever can cause fever and flu-like illness, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), liver failure, respiratory failure, kidney failure, vomiting of blood, and possibly death.

The yellow fever vaccine is used to help prevent this disease in adults and children who are at least 9 months old. This 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.

This vaccine is recommended for people who plan to live in or travel to areas where yellow fever is known to exist, or where an epidemic has recently occurred. The vaccine should also be given to people who will spend any amount of time in rural areas where yellow fever is endemic, or those who are otherwise at high risk of coming into contact with the virus.

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?

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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 gelatin, eggs, or chicken proteins;
  • a chronic disease such as asthma or other breathing disorder, diabetes, kidney disease, or blood cell disorders such as anemia;
  • a weak immune system caused by disease (such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS);
  • if you are receiving treatments that can weaken the immune system (such as radiation, chemotherapy, or steroids); or
  • if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Tell your doctor if anyone living with you has cancer or a weak immune system, or is receiving treatments that can weaken the immune system (such as radiation, chemotherapy, or steroids).

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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.

To make sure you can safely receive yellow fever vaccine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • a history of seizures;
  • an allergy to latex rubber;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine);
  • a history of myasthenia gravis, tumor of the thymus gland, or if your thymus gland has been surgically removed; or
  • a weak immune system caused by disease (such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS), or by taking certain medicines such as steroids.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a cold or fever. 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.

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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.

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You should not receive this vaccine if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Children younger than 9 months old should not receive this vaccine, and should not travel to areas where yellow fever is known to exist.

How is yellow fever vaccine given?

This vaccine is injected into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or clinic setting.

Yellow fever vaccine is given every 10 years to people who are at risk of exposure to yellow fever. The first shot can be given to a child who is at least 9 months old. 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).

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 should receive a booster dose of yellow fever vaccine every 10 years.

After receiving the vaccine, you will be given an International Certificate of Vaccination (yellow card) from the office or clinic where you receive your yellow fever vaccine. This certificate should contain the date you received the vaccine, as well as the vaccine's lot number and manufacturer. 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.

Your doctor may recommend treating fever and pain with an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) when the shot is given and for the next 24 hours. Follow the label directions or your doctor's instructions about how much of this medicine to take. It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring if you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

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This vaccine can cause false results on a skin test for tuberculosis for up to 6 weeks. Tell any doctor who treats you if you have received a yellow fever vaccine within the past 4 to 6 weeks.

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.

Be sure you receive a booster dose of yellow fever vaccine every 10 years if you continue to travel or live in areas where yellow fever is common. If you do not receive the vaccine every 10 years, you may not be fully protected against the disease.

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?

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Do not receive another "live" vaccine for at least 4 weeks after you have received the yellow fever vaccine. Live vaccines may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), oral polio, rotavirus, smallpox, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), H1N1 influenza, and nasal flu vaccine.

What are the possible side effects of yellow fever vaccine?

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

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine (for up to 30 days after the shot). If you ever need to receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous dose caused any side effects.

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

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: pale skin, hives; weakness, dizziness, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects (may occur up to 30 days after you receive the vaccine):

  • flu symptoms, stiff neck or back, vomiting, confusion, memory loss, irritability, loss of balance or coordination;
  • weakness or prickly feeling in your fingers or toes, sensitivity to light;
  • problems with walking, breathing, speech, swallowing, vision, or eye movement;
  • severe lower back pain, loss of bladder or bowel control;
  • muscle weakness or loss of movement in any part of your body; or
  • behavior changes, seizure (black-out or convulsions).

Less serious side effects (may occur for 5 to 10 days after you receive the vaccine) include:

  • low fever, mild headache, general ill feeling;
  • mild rash, muscle pain, joint pain, body aches; or
  • pain, tenderness, swelling, or a lump where the shot 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?

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

If you are using any of these medications, you may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.:

  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection.

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with this vaccine. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over the counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

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


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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