Learn more about Yellow Fever Vaccine and how our travel clinics at Peak Pharmacy can help you travel safely.
Yellow Fever is a very serious infection caused by a viral haemorrhagic disease endemic to tropical areas of the world like Amazonian South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Figures from the World Health Organisation in 2013 estimate around 29000-60000 deaths with significant illness affecting 84000-170000 individuals.
Whilst South America and Africa have the yellow fever virus the risk of an outbreak is around 10x higher in Africa.
This disease (for unknown reasons) is not found in Asia!
Yellow Fever can be difficult to diagnose because initial symptoms are very similar to influenza, for example, fever, headache, and loss of appetite. Many people will make a full recovery but a few will go on to develop more serious symptoms with around 50% of these patients dying within 7-10 days. More serious symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin hence the name yellow fever), dark urine and widespread damage to the body’s organs that often leads to internal bleeding.
The virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The usual culprit is the Aedes aegypti species. The mosquito can survive in various habitats, meaning Yellow Fever can be transmitted in both jungle and urban environments but typically originates in the jungle in primate populations.
Yellow fever vaccination is not part of the national immunisation programme in the UK, travellers to regions of the world where this vaccine is recommended are at risk of getting the disease if they have not been vaccinated.
Mosquito bites are very difficult to avoid and it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause this as well as many other infectious diseases, for example, dengue fever and malaria.
Keep reading to learn more about bite avoidance techniques.
Vaccination against Yellow Fever is the best method of prevention but bite avoidance can be practised to reduce the risk of Yellow Fever and other diseases spread by mosquitoes and biting insects. Typically insect repellents containing 50% DEET and long loose-fitting clothing are the best methods of avoiding bites during waking hours. When sleeping always use a mosquito net, make sure windows are doors are properly screened, and if available use air conditioning. More about insect bite avoidance can be found at Travel Health Pro.
Vaccination against Yellow Fever is the best method of preventing the disease if travelling to a risk area. The vaccine Stamaril is a live vaccine, which means you are vaccinated with a non-virulent (weakened) strain of the virus and a single dose will confer lifetime immunity against the disease. Live vaccines like Stamaril cannot, therefore, be used in travellers with weakened immune systems.
Stamaril is suitable for use in adults and children from 9 months of age but can be associated with significant adverse events (side effects) in children 6-9 months old and adults over 60 years. Specialist travel advice which can be supplied by Peak Pharmacy is required for these groups of patients if travelling to risk areas.
Under International Health Regulations many countries of the world require proof of vaccination in order to travel between countries. It is important to understand that there is a difference between vaccination (to protect the traveller) and certification (which is intended to prevent the spread of the disease).
All Yellow Fever vaccines administered by our experienced pharmacists at our Peak Pharmacy Travel Clinics are supplied with a certificate valid for life.
As mentioned earlier the Yellow Fever vaccine Stamaril is generally safe and very effective at preventing disease. Typical adverse events are usually limited to:
These symptoms will usually resolve within a few days and require only paracetamol or a cold compress (if swelling at the injection site) to manage them. Some patients can, unfortunately, go on to develop significant side effects that in some cases can be life-threatening. Typically these individuals are over 60 years old, under 9 months old or suffer from immune system problems. Through effective screening procedures, our teams can ensure that this vaccine is administered safely and the risk to healthy adults from this vaccine is very low.
No. Yellow Fever is not provided for free on the NHS for travellers.
If you don’t need a yellow Fever centre then we have a large selection of pharmacies across the company who can advise you on travel health for your next trip.