Yellow fever vaccine
Yellow fever vaccine is a live vaccine containing weakened, live yellow fever virus. It is given as a single shot. One dose provides lifelong protection for most people.
Yellow fever vaccine is recommended for:
- People 9 months through 59 years of age who are traveling to or living in areas at risk for yellow fever virus activity, or traveling to a country with an entry requirement for vaccination. (People younger than 9 months or older than 59 years who are at increased risk might receive yellow fever vaccine in some situations. Ask your health care provider for more information.)
- Laboratory personnel who might be exposed to yellow fever virus or vaccine virus.
Yellow fever vaccine is given only at designated vaccination centers. After getting the vaccine, you will be given an “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis” (ICVP, sometimes called the “yellow card”). You will need this card as proof of vaccination to enter certain countries. If you don’t have it, you might be required to get yellow fever vaccine upon entering the country, or be forced to wait for up to 6 days to make sure you are not infected.
Do not donate blood for 14 days after vaccination, because there is a risk of passing vaccine virus to others during that period.
Talk with your health care provider
Discuss your itinerary with your health care provider before you get your yellow fever vaccination. You can visit CDC’s Travelers’ Health website at www.cdc.gov/travel to learn if yellow fever vaccination is recommended or required based on your travel location.
Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of yellow fever vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
- Has a weakened immune system.
- Has had their thymus removed or been diagnosed with a thymus disorder.
- Is pregnant or
- Has gotten any other vaccines in the past 4 weeks.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting yellow fever vaccine.
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone yellow fever vaccination to a future visit.
If you cannot get yellow fever vaccine for medical reasons and you are traveling to a country with a yellow fever vaccination entry requirement, your doctor will need to fill out the Medical Contraindications to Vaccination section of your yellow card. In addition, your doctor should give you a waiver letter. If you plan to use a waiver, you can contact the embassies of countries you plan to visit for more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given are common after yellow fever vaccine.
- Fever sometimes happens.
- Headache and muscle aches can occur.
- More serious reactions happen rarely after yellow fever vaccine. These can include:
- Nervous system reactions such as inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and/or spinal cord covering (meningitis), or Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), among others.
- Life-threatening severe illness with organ dysfunction or failure.
People 60 years and older and people with weakened immune systems might be more likely to experience serious reactions to yellow fever vaccine.
People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
As with any medicine, there is a remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
Vaccine Information Statement
Yellow Fever Vaccine (4/1/20)
Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention