Yellow fever vaccination is available to international travellers through designated yellow fever vaccination centres. Yellow fever vaccination is a legal requirement for entry to some countries, either for all travellers or for those coming from other countries where the yellow fever virus is found. Consult a travel clinic to find out which countries have this requirement.
The travel clinic which vaccinates you will give you a special booklet. It contains an "International Certificate of Vaccination or Revaccination Against Yellow Fever" which records the date of your vaccination, and a validation stamp. You are responsible for keeping track of this booklet. It is an official record of your vaccinations.
Travellers nine months of age and older receive one injection of vaccine in the arm. Infants 4 to 9 months of age, pregnant women, and persons with HIV infection should only be considered for vaccination if travelling to high-risk areas when travel cannot be postponed and a high level of prevention against mosquito exposure is not feasible. Infants less than 4 months of age should not be given vaccine.
Vaccination is also recommended for laboratory personnel who work with yellow fever virus. Immunity develops 10 days after vaccination and lasts for more than 10 years. Revaccination every 10 years is required for travel and is recommended for those laboratory personnel who work with the virus. Any person not receiving yellow fever vaccination because of a medical contraindication should travel with a doctor's letter, written on letterhead stationery and stamped with the Health Canada stamp used to validate the International Certificate of Vaccination. It should clearly state the contraindication to yellow fever vaccination.
Occasionally, side effects may appear 5 to 10 days after immunization. These side effects (which happen to about 5% of people) may include:
- mild headache
- slight fever, or
- aching muscles lasting a day or two.
These can be relieved by using acetaminophen. With any vaccine or drug there is a possibility of a shock-like allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). This can be hives, wheezy breathing, or swelling of some part of the body. If this happens, particularly swelling around the throat, immediately get to your family doctor or hospital emergency. It is suggested that persons stay in the clinic for at least 15 minutes after receiving any type of immunization. Report serious reactions to your local health unit, travel clinic or doctor.
Note: Acetaminophen is recommended if there is fever or pain following immunization. Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin) is NOT recommended for children.
This vaccine should not be given to people who:
- have diseases or take drugs which reduce their immunity;
- have a moderate or severe illness;
- are less than four months old;
- have HIV infection, are pregnant, or are 4 to 9 months of age, unless the risk of exposure is very high; or
- have had a known shock-like (anaphylactic) reaction to eating eggs, to a previous dose of yellow fever vaccine or to any component of the vaccine (sorbitol and gelatin).
While every effort is made to seek parental or guardian consent prior to immunizations, children under the ago of 19 who are able to fully understand the risks and benefits of specific immunizations may consent to, or refuse such immunizations regardless of parental/guardian wishes. Appropriate steps are taken to avoid peer influence in these decisions. Parents/guardians and their minor children are advised to discuss consent issues. For further information, please contact your local health unit.