The yellow fever vaccine protects against yellow fever, and the majority of people do not experience any yellow fever vaccine side effects. Many countries popular with British tourists require you to show your yellow fever certificate upon entry in certain situations. You will be provided with the certificate after you have been vaccinated, and it is valid forever. Please note that we are not able to offer yellow fever vaccinations at the moment.
The yellow fever vaccine lasts a lifetime for most people. Booster doses used to be recommended every ten years, but this has been changed.
If you have never had a yellow fever vaccination before, you should make sure you have it at least ten days before you travel if you need the vaccine, but 30 days before if possible. This is because the vaccine is effective within 10 days for 80% to 100% of people, and within 30 days for more than 99% of people vaccinated according to the WHO (World Health Organisation).
Moreover, the yellow fever certificate becomes valid 10 days after you get vaccinated, so it is therefore a good idea to plan ahead.
Only one in three people experience any yellow fever vaccine side effects, and leaving yourself vulnerable to yellow fever, by not having the vaccine, is a much greater risk to your health.
Yellow fever vaccine side effects usually begin quickly after the injection and can last up to 14 days, though most people get better within one week.
Common yellow fever vaccine side effects include:
mild joint pain
soreness, redness or swelling around the injection site
Additionally, there is only a small risk of serious side effects from the yellow fever vaccine, but these are very rare. For example, about 1 in 55,000 people experience a severe allergic reaction.
Rare yellow fever vaccine side effects include:
signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling and fever
coughing and difficulty swallowing
irritability and feeling nervous
itching or tingling skin
a stiff neck
If you do experience rare side effects, you should seek medical advice immediately.
The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for the majority of people over nine months of age, if they are living or travelling to a destination in an area where yellow fever is found, such as South America or Africa.
Some countries, such as Australia and China, who do not have a risk of the disease, require a yellow fever certificate if you are entering from a country with risk of yellow fever. In this case, you will therefore also need the vaccine.
But even though most people can have the yellow fever vaccine, it can cause problems for some. This includes people who:
have been previously vaccinated
are travelling to a country without risk
are travelling to a country with no yellow fever certificate requirement
have a child that is younger than 9 months of age
are pregnant or breastfeeding
are immunosuppressed, for example because of steroids or other drugs
are severely allergic to egg or other ingredients of the vaccine
are suffering from thymus disorder or have had their thymus removed
If you belong to any of these groups or you are unsure whether you should get the yellow fever vaccine, you can book a free telephone consultation with one of our prescribing nurses, who can advise you. Please note that we are not able to offer yellow fever vaccinations at the moment.
The yellow fever certificate is known as the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP).
You will be given a certificate when you are vaccinated at a yellow fever vaccination centre. Make sure you keep it safe as you will need to show the actual document, not a copy or a photograph when travelling.
If you hold an old yellow fever certificate, this is now valid forever, even if there is an expiry date on it.
It is only possible to get your yellow fever vaccine and your yellow fever certificate at registered yellow fever vaccination centres. Find your nearest yellow fever vaccination centre here.
If there is a risk of yellow fever at your destination, it is recommended that you check whether you need the vaccine, as the disease can be fatal.
Currently, we are not able to offer yellow fever vaccinations, and the cost of the yellow fever vaccine is therefore not displayed below.
Anne Marie Major, Independent Nurse Prescriber
July 01, 2019