There's a very effective vaccine that can stop you getting yellow fever if you're travelling to an area where the infection is found.
It's given as an injection into your upper arm.
But even if you have been vaccinated, it's important to prevent insect bites as mosquitoes can also spread other serious illnesses.
Who should have the yellow fever vaccine
The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for people from 9 months of age who are travelling to:
- an area where yellow fever is found, including most of sub-Saharan Africa, most of South America, and parts of Central America and the Caribbean
- a country that requires you to have a certificate proving you have been vaccinated against yellow fever
You should be vaccinated at least 10 days before you travel to allow enough time for the vaccine to work.
Some people might not be able to have the vaccine because there's a risk it could make them unwell.
Yellow fever vaccination certificate
Some countries require a certificate showing you have been vaccinated before you're allowed entry.
This is known as an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP).
You'll be given a certificate when you're vaccinated at a yellow fever vaccination centre.
Check the country information on the Travel Health Pro website or with a yellow fever vaccination centre to see if you need a certificate for the area you're visiting.
A certificate isn't required for entry into the UK.
If you lose your certificate, you may be able to get another one reissued if you have details of the vaccination batch number and the date you had the vaccination.
Where to get the yellow fever vaccine
The yellow fever vaccine and vaccination certificates are only available from registered yellow fever vaccination centres.
How much the yellow fever vaccine costs
The yellow fever vaccine is not available for free on the NHS, so you'll have to pay for it.
It typically costs around £60 to £80.
How long the yellow fever vaccine lasts
The yellow fever vaccine provides lifelong protection for most people.
All vaccination certificates are now valid for life, including older ones with an expiry date on them.
Booster doses are usually only recommended if all the following apply:
- you're travelling to an area where yellow fever is found
- you were last vaccinated more than 10 years ago
- when you were last vaccinated, you were under 2 years old, pregnant, or had a weakened immune system – for example, because of HIV or preparation for a bone marrow transplant
Contact a yellow fever vaccination centre for advice if you're not sure if you need a booster dose before travelling.
Who can't have the yellow fever vaccine
The yellow fever vaccine is not always recommended for some people, including:
- babies under 9 months of age – babies who are 6 to 9 months old may sometimes be vaccinated if the risk of getting yellow fever is high
- pregnant and breastfeeding women
- people over the age of 60
- people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV
- people who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, including people with an egg allergy
- people with a disorder of their thymus gland
Contact a yellow fever vaccination centre for advice if you need a vaccination certificate for the country you're visiting but you're not sure if you can have the vaccine.
They may provide you with an exemption letter, which may be accepted by officials in countries that usually require a vaccination certificate.
Take extra care to prevent insect bites while travelling if you haven't been vaccinated.
Side effects of the yellow fever vaccine
The yellow fever vaccine can cause some side effects, but the risk of not being vaccinated usually outweighs the risk of having side effects.
After having the vaccine, up to 1 in every 3 people gets:
- a headache
- muscle pain
- a mild fever
- soreness at the injection site
These side effects usually pass within 2 weeks.
There are also some more serious but very rare side effects that can occur, including an allergic reaction and problems affecting the brain or organs.
These occur less than 10 times for every million doses of vaccine given.
Get medical advice if you feel very unwell within a few days or weeks of having the yellow fever vaccine.