Everything You Need To Know About Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a serious and potentially deadly disease caused by the yellow fever virus, primarily transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It is prevalent in certain parts of the world, posing a significant health risk to travellers and residents alike. To safeguard against this viral infection, vaccination is essential.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the details of yellow fever, its symptoms, prevention, and the crucial aspect of when to get vaccinated.

 Key Information & Summary

  • Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, leading to a range of symptoms from mild to severe.
  • Travellers visiting countries at risk of Yellow Fever transmission are advised to practice mosquito bite avoidance and receive yellow fever vaccination.
  • Some travellers to Yellow Fever risk countries may need an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis per the International Health Regulations (2005).
  • The Yellow Fever vaccine is exclusively available at designated UK Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres such as Kennedy's Pharmacy
  • There is no specific treatment for the Yellow Fever disease

Understanding Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. It gets its name from the jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) that affects some patients suffering from the disease's severe form. The virus responsible for yellow fever is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Yellow Fever Risk For Travellers

The risk of contracting Yellow Fever is determined by the following factors:

  • travel destination
  • intensity of Yellow fever transmission in area to be visited
  • season of travel (most cases in travellers have occurred in the late rainy season to early dry season)
  • duration of travel
  • activities allowing exposure to mosquitoes
  • immunisation status

Symptoms of Yellow Fever

  • Initial Symptoms: Yellow fever often starts with mild symptoms like fever, chills, headache, and muscle pain. These symptoms can be mistaken for other illnesses, making early diagnosis challenging.

  • Acute Phase: After the initial phase, a subset of patients enters an acute phase, which can cause more severe symptoms, including high fever, jaundice, bleeding, and organ failure. This phase can be life-threatening.

The Importance of Vaccination

Yellow fever vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease. It provides long-lasting immunity and is a mandatory requirement for travellers visiting certain countries. The vaccine is safe and highly effective, offering protection against yellow fever.

    Who Should Get Vaccinated?

    Yellow Fever vaccine is indicated for individuals at risk of yellow fever, and to prevent the international spread of this disease. The following groups should be immunised if there are no contraindications to the vaccine:
    • Laboratory workers: Specifically those handling infective material.
    • Travellers: Individuals planning to visit regions where yellow fever is endemic or where vaccination is a mandatory entry requirement should get vaccinated before their trip.

    • Cruise Guests: Those going for cruises especially around Africa and South and Central America where a certificate is required. However, in these circumstances does not necessarily connect the risk of disease for a traveller.
    • Residents: People living in areas with a history of yellow fever outbreaks should also be vaccinated to reduce the risk of transmission.

    Vaccine Safety

    Yellow fever vaccine is generally safe, but like any medical intervention, it can have side effects. Common side effects include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, and headache.

    Severe side effects are rare but can include allergic reactions. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional such as those at Kennedy's Pharmacy before vaccination.

    Vaccine Certificate Information

    Yellow Fellow has been designated as an infection for which an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) may be required for travellers as a condition of entry to a country.

    In order to prevent the international spread of Yellow Fever, under the International Health Regulations, some countries may require proof of vaccination, recorded in an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

    The most popular countries where yellow fever vaccination is required or recommended are:

    • Argentina
    • Brazil
    • Gabon
    • Ghana
    • Kenya
    • Tanzania

    This is not a full list, please contact us if you are unsure if your travel destination requires a yellow fever vaccination.

    Where to Get A Vaccine Certificate

    The yellow fever vaccine and vaccination certificates are only available from registered yellow fever vaccination centres. Kennedy's Pharmacy is a registered vaccination centre and our pharmacists are able to provide this through our yellow fever vaccination service.

    Potential Side Effects of the Yellow Fever Vaccine

    The yellow fever vaccine can cause some side effects, if you are uncertain or worried about potential side effects - a  strongly consider a consultation to discuss before receiving you vaccination. 

    Some common side effects are:

    • a headache
    • muscle pain
    • a raised temperature
    • soreness at the injection site

    These side effects usually pass within 2 weeks.

    Serious adverse events are rare and fall into three main categories: hypersensitivity reactions, vaccine-associated neurologic disease (YEL-AND) and vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL-AVD).

    Rarely, a person can get more serious side effects, including an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the vaccine. Get medical advice if you feel very unwell within a few days or weeks of having the yellow fever vaccine.

    When to Get Vaccinated

    The timing of yellow fever vaccination is critical for its effectiveness. Here's when you should consider getting vaccinated:

    • Plan Ahead: If you know you'll be traveling to a yellow fever-endemic region, start planning at least a month in advance. This allows ample time for vaccination and the development of immunity. 

    • Timing Matters: Get vaccinated at least ten days before your trip. Some countries may require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, so keep your certificate handy.


    In conclusion, yellow fever is a serious disease that can be prevented through vaccination. Understanding when to get vaccinated is crucial for ensuring your safety when traveling to at-risk areas.

    Remember that vaccination not only protects you but also contributes to the global effort to control the spread of this potentially deadly virus.

    FAQs About Yellow Fever and Vaccination

    1. Is yellow fever a common disease?

    No, yellow fever is not common, but it can be severe and life-threatening when contracted.

    2. Are there any exemptions from yellow fever vaccination for travellers?

    Some individuals, such as those with specific medical conditions, may be exempt from vaccination. If you are unsure about whether you can be exempt, please contact our pharmacists.

    3. Are there any age restrictions for yellow fever vaccination?

    Yellow fever vaccination is generally recommended for individuals over nine months of age, but there can be exceptions.

    It is not recommended for travellers over 60 years of age due to a higher risk of life-threatening side effects, the vaccine should be given only when there is a significant and unavoidable risk of acquiring yellow fever infection

    Consult with our pharmacists for more information.

    4. How long does the yellow fever vaccine last?

    The yellow fever vaccine provides lifelong protection for most people. Rarely, a further dose of vaccine may also be advised if there's a concern about the traveller's risk of yellow fever. Please contact us for advice if you're not sure if you need another dose before travelling.


    • https://nathnacyfzone.org.uk/factsheet/66/yellow-fever-factsheet
    • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/yellow-fever/vaccination/