Yellow fever vaccine

About Yellow fever disease

Yellow fever was a dreaded disease which raged through the continents of Europe, Africa, and South, Central, and North America in the 18th and the 19th centuries. Thousands fell prey to it in those times. Yellow fever is caused by a virus and is transmitted through mosquitoes. It occurs in areas where hygiene and sanitation are not maintained and where there is overcrowding. Though yellow fever does not exist in India, conditions are conducive for its spread in the country due to the widespread presence of the mosquito Aedes aegypti and also the climatic conditions.

In some people, the symptoms go away without further complications but in 20% people, the symptoms reappear with high fever, vomiting, stomach pain, and dehydration. This is followed with bleeding gums and black vomit and kidney failure.3

Why is a vaccine required?

Yellow fever is one of the most dangerous mosquito-spread diseases. One rarely hears of yellow fever in today’s times. We owe this good fortune to decades of vaccination which have put the chains on this dangerous infection.

However, in recent times yellow fever has re-emerged in some parts of Africa and South America, and hence vaccination to protect against this deadly disease may help.3 Yellow fever can be fatal. Moreover, there is no specific treatment for yellow fever. In fact, if one is planning to visit a yellow fever-prone region (anywhere in Africa or South America), it is advisable to consult a physician about the yellow fever vaccine.

Who should get the vaccine? 1

Who should not get the vaccine? 1

People who should not get the vaccine include,

  • Those having allergy to any vaccine component
  • Children of Age < 6 months
  • People with compromised immunity including HIV and cancer patients

Note: Should be given with caution to pregnant and nursing women and elderly (>65 years).

What is the schedule for Yellow fever vaccine?1

A single dose of vaccine (0.5 ml) is sufficient to give sustained life-long protection

How effective is the vaccine?1

The yellow fever vaccine is often cited as one of the most successful vaccines ever developed. Its effectivity is considered to be greater than 90%. Protective immunity is attained by 10th day of vaccination and lasts for at least 10 years.

Does it have any side effects? 1

It gives mild side effects like pain or redness at the injection site, headache, malaise, and myalgia. However, some children may develop severe reactions following the injection.


  2. Adv Parasitol. 2006; 62: 181–220.
  3. Clin Lab Med. 2010 Mar; 30(1): 237–260.