The CDC recently announced that the yellow fever vaccine has been depleted. The YF-VAX vaccine is the only approved yellow fever vaccine in the United States. As of July 2017 the YF-VAX is gone and not expected to be back in stock until mid 2018. Read on to see how this affects you and what options you have.
What is Yellow Fever?
Yellow Fever is a viral disease that is transmitted via infected mosquitos. Primary carriers are the Aedes or Haemagogus mosquitoes. If you’re infected, the symptoms can be mild and include fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. However, in about 15% of people yellow fever can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.
How Does This Affect Travelers?
If you’re traveling to certain parts of Africa or South America, you might need a yellow fever vaccination. The CDC recommends travelers visiting specific countries where the yellow fever virus is present to get a vaccination. You can find the list of countries on the CDC website. If you’re traveling to Africa or South America, you need to see if your country is on the list.
Note, the CDC vaccination recommendation is not the same as a country requiring the vaccination for entry. Some countries require yellow fever vaccination documentation to enter their country as a way to help prevent the spread of the disease. A vaccine recommendation is designed to keep you from getting yellow fever; a vaccine requirement is the country’s attempt to keep travelers from bringing the yellow fever virus into the country.
Another Vaccine is Now Available
In expectation of this shortage the US Food and Drug Administration worked with the makers of the YF-VAX vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur, to make their other yellow fever vaccine available in the United States. The other vaccine, Stamaril, is being allowed into the US market until the YF-VAX production has resumed. The Stamaril vaccine is already being used in over 70 other countries.
However, it’s important to understand that the Stamaril vaccine is being distributed to a very small number of clinics around the United States. Over 4,000 clinics had been distributing the YF-VAX vaccine, now there will only be about 250 US clinics with the Stamaril vaccine. You can search for clinics on the CDC website.
Other Precautions to Prevent Yellow Fever
Mosquitos are the transmitters for this disease, so mosquito bite prevention is also an important way to prevent contracting the disease. Cover your exposed skin, use an appropriate insect repellent, wear treated clothing, and use netting when sleeping.