Yellow Fever Vaccination
People travelling to Africa, the Caribbean and Central or South America are at risk of contracting the yellow fever virus. As there is no known cure for yellow fever, and if left untreated the virus can lead to death, it’s important to understand the risks and precautions available to protect yourself from infection.
What is Yellow Fever?
Yellow fever is a virus carried by the mosquito, principally, Aedes and Haemagogus mosquito species. The virus is spread primarily through a bite from an infected mosquito. Yellow Fever derives its name from the yellow discolouration of the skin caused in serious cases – a condition called jaundice.
What are the symptoms of Yellow Fever?
The symptoms of yellow fever can take between 3 to 6 days to appear. Although some cases can be mild, most lead to serious illness. The illness usually has two stages. In the first stage you can expect to have fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches and weakness.
Between 15 to 25 per cent of patients will progress to the second stage (especially those that have gone untreated). This stage is known as the ‘toxic’ stage which can be characterised by visible bleeding, jaundice, kidney and liver failure. Half of these patients will die within 10 to 14 days after the onset of the virus.
How is Yellow Fever treated?
It can be difficult to recognise the yellow fever virus in its early stages, leading to misdiagnosis of other illnesses such as malaria, typhoid, rickettsia, haemorrhagic viral fevers, dengue fever, and viral hepatitis. Accurate diagnosis of yellow fever requires a blood test by trained staff using specialized equipment and materials.
There is no specific treatment or cure for yellow fever. Patients are usually hospitalised and observed. Medication can be used to relieve the symptoms of the virus and may improve the outcome for seriously ill patients.
How do I protect myself from Yellow Fever?
Yellow fever is preventable! There are two precautions you can take to ensure you stay protected from infection:
- Getting the yellow fever vaccine - The vaccine is safe and almost 100 percent effective. With few exceptions, vaccination is recommended for all travellers to countries or areas where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission. The International Travel Vaccination Centre is an approved Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre that offers travel support and advice to international travellers. Book an appointment now.
- Avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes - The mosquitoes responsible for spreading yellow fever are predominantly active during the day. You can take precautionary measures to avoid mosquitoes and mosquito bites. See our fact sheet on Preventing Insect Bites
About the Yellow Fever Vaccine
Am I required to have a Yellow Fever Vaccine?
It is strongly recommended that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever if travelling to or from a yellow fever risk country.
People who are one year of age or older will be asked to provide an international vaccination certificate if, within six days before arriving in Australia, they have stayed overnight or longer in a yellow fever risk country. People unable to provide a certificate will still be able to enter Australia.
On arrival in Australia, Department of Agriculture, Biosecurity officers will reinforce the seriousness of the disease to you and provide you with a Yellow Fever Action Card. The card provides instructions on what you should do if you develop any symptoms of yellow fever in the six-day period following your departure from a yellow fever risk country.
If you have travelled through a yellow fever risk country, and you do not have a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate, you risk being refused entry into many countries or may be required to be vaccinated upon arrival. We recommend you confirm the requirements of the countries you are traveling to before going on your trip.
Who should have a Yellow Fever Vaccination?
The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for:
- people who are nine months of age, or older, who are travelling or living in any country in West Africa, regardless of where they will be in that country; and
- people who are nine months of age, or older, travelling or living outside the urban areas of all other yellow fever endemic countries.
Exemptions can be made if necessary due to health or other reasons. Speak to your travel doctor about any concerns you may have regarding the yellow fever vaccine.
Where can I get a Yellow Fever Vaccination?
Yellow fever vaccinations must be provided by an approved yellow fever vaccination clinic. The International Travel Vaccination Clinic is an approved Yellow fever Vaccination Clinic and will provide a vaccination certificate in the form approved and required by WHO.
How long does the Yellow Fever Vaccination last?
A single dose of yellow fever vaccine will provide life-long protection against the disease. Protection begins 10 days after vaccination; therefore you should make sure you are vaccinated no less than 10 days before entering the yellow fever risk area.
Countries that require a Yellow Fever Vaccination
Australia is guided by the WHO list of yellow fever endemic countries. Australia also takes into account recent international surveillance data. The following countries are on the list:
|Congo, Republic of the
|Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
|Central African Republic
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Central and South America
|Argentina - Misiones Province
|Ecuador excluding Galapagos Islands
The following maps show yellow fever risk areas in different countries: