Yellow Fever

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

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What are the side effects of the yellow fever vaccine?

The yellow fever vaccine can have rare but serious adverse side effects. It is generally administered in designated vaccination centers. Health-care providers need to consider the individual's underlying health, their risk of exposure to yellow fever, and the contraindications to vaccine administration before recommending it. To minimize the risk of serious adverse events, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following recommendations:

Contraindications (conditions in which the vaccine should not be given)

  • Allergy to vaccine component
  • Age <6 months
  • Symptomatic HIV infection or CD4+ T-lymphocytes <200/mm3 (<15% of total in children aged <6 years)
  • Thymus disorder associated with abnormal immune function
  • Primary immunodeficiencies
  • Malignant neoplasms
  • Transplantation
  • Immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory therapies

Precautions (conditions for which the risks of the vaccine and the disease should be carefully considered)

  • Age 6-8 months
  • Age ≥60 years
  • Asymptomatic HIV infection and CD4+ T-lymphocytes 200 to 499/mm3 (15%-24% of total in children aged <6 years)
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding

Individuals who do experience side effects from the yellow fever vaccine will generally experience mild symptoms, including low-grade fever, muscle aches, and headache. However, in rare cases, serious adverse events from the yellow fever vaccine can occur including life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, yellow fever vaccine-associated neurologic disease (a condition affecting the nervous system), and yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (a condition affecting the internal organs).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/30/2016

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