Should I get vaccinated?
Yellow fever is a serious viral infection that affects people of all ages. Mosquitoes spread the disease in parts of Africa, Central and South America.
Vaccination is recommended to people travelling to countries with a risk of yellow fever. Some countries, including Australia, require proof of vaccination for travellers who are entering or have been in yellow fever areas. Once vaccinated, you will have lifetime cover.
How do I get vaccinated?
People over 9 months old who are travelling to countries with a risk of yellow fever should consider getting vaccinated. The vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. Travellers should get the vaccine at least 10 days before travel.
Appointments are quick and at Craven’s Pharmacy the yellow fever vaccine costs $120.00 with an appointment with the Nurse Practioner.
Fill out the contact form attached or book an appointment online today to protect yourself and your family.
You will receive a yellow book that is your International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis against yellow fever. It is very important that you keep this document safe and carry it with you when you travel. You may need to show this when entering certain countries, to prove that you meet their vaccination requirements.
If you lose your certificate, the place where you got vaccinated may be able to help. Otherwise, you may need to get revaccinated.
Yellow fever facts
Yellow fever is a very serious viral infection. It is transmitted to people by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which lives in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Central America and South America. It predominantly bites during the day.
The disease name comes from the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), which is caused by liver infection in stage two of the disease.
Yellow fever is an extremely serious infection. Getting vaccinated is the best way to reduce your chances of becoming unwell if you travel to an infected area.
Yellow fever incubates in the body for up to six days. After incubation, the onset of the disease is rapid and can have two stages.
Stage one is the initial infection and symptoms include:
- nausea and vomiting
- myalgia (muscle pain)
- stomach pains
- flushed face
- eye congestion
- restlessness and irritability.
After stage 1, the infection normal settles and people experience 24-48 hours of remission. About 20% of people then suffer a relapse and enter stage 2, which is very serious. The symptoms of stage two include:
- high fever
- upper abdominal pain
- vomiting blood and black ‘coffee grounds’
- internal haemorrhaging
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes due to liver infection)
- kidney failure
- liver failure.
Stage two infection results in death in up to 50% of cases.
Yellow fever can affect anyone who gets bitten by an infected mosquito. Vaccination normally covers people for life. However, after 10 years, certain groups of people should get their antibody levels checked and get a booster shot if required. These groups include people who:
- were pregnant when they were first vaccinated
- had HIV when they were first vaccinated
- are staying a high-risk area for an extended period of time
- have had haematopoietic stem cell transplant since they were vaccinated
- work with the yellow fever virus in a laboratory.
Infection and transmission
Yellow fever is transmitted by the mosquito called Aedes aegypti. When a mosquito carrying the virus bites a person, that person can become infected. Uninfected mosquitoes can also get the virus by biting an infected person. The virus is incubated in the body for up to six days before symptoms start to show. This is why some countries, including Australia, require travellers to show proof of vaccination if they have visited areas with yellow fever, even if they don’t feel unwell.
Possible side effects to the yellow fever vaccination include a headache, mild fever and muscle pain. These can be eased by using a pain relief such as paracetamol.
Severe side effects to vaccination are rare. However, the shot may be dangerous to people who have a severe allergy to egg or gelatine. Speak to your pharmacist before getting vaccinated if you have experienced anaphylaxis after a previous vaccination. They can advise you on whether the vaccine is right for you.
Vaccination is not usually advised for babies under 9 months old or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding an infant who is less than 9 months old. People with a compromised immune system, a thymus disorder and those over 60 have a higher risk of adverse effects to the vaccination. If travel to a yellow fever infected area is unavoidable, vaccination may still be recommended by your doctor.
Severe adverse effects to the yellow fever vaccine are very rare. Serious viscerotropic (multiorgan system failure) effects occur in just 3-4 of 1,000,000 vaccinations. These cases are usually in older people or those with thymus disease. Between 1992-2014, only 200 cases of serious neurotropic (affecting the nerve cells) effects were reported worldwide. They mostly affected babies under 9 months old or people over 60 years of age. Some of these adverse effects included:
- meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain)
- acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (an autoimmune disease associated with inflammation in the brain and spinal cord)
- Guillian-Barré syndrome (an autoimmune disorder affecting the nerves)
- Bulbar palsy (impairment to the cranial nerves)
If you have any medical concerns talk to your pharmacist or doctor about whether vaccination is right for you. In some medical circumstances, an official vaccination exemption letter can be provided by your doctor. You need a new letter each time you travel.
If you feel very unwell, faint, short of breath or if your symptoms do not go away, you should contact your doctor.
Preventing yellow fever
Vaccination is the best way to avoid getting yellow fever. Many countries require evidence of vaccination on entry if you have been in an infected area. Yellow fever is present in 47 tropical and subtropical countries, 34 of which are in Africa and the remaining 13 are in Central and South America.
The Centres for Disease Prevention and Control can provide the most up to date information about whether a yellow fever vaccine is recommended for your travel.
It is also important to minimise your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes by:
- using insect repellent that contains at least 30% DEET
- covering as much skin as possible by wearing light coloured, loose fitting clothing with long sleeves and long pants
- treating your clothes with mosquito repellent
- avoiding going outside or having doors and windows open at dawn and dusk
- sleeping in a mosquito net (preferably treated with repellent) or a closed room and spraying an insecticide before going to bed.
Your pharmacist can help you choose the best mosquito repellent products for your travel.
Treating yellow fever
If you experience any of the symptoms of yellow fever within six days of visiting an infected area you should seek urgent medical attention.
In Australia, you must notify public health authorities and quarantine suspected cases of yellow fever.