4 Things Travelers Need To Know About Yellow Fever Vaccines

International travel can be fun, but your vacation may expose you to more than just new food and new people; it may also expose you to diseases you won't encounter at home, like yellow fever. Fortunately, a vaccine is available for yellow fever, so you don't need to let serious illness ruin your holiday. Here are four things you need to know about the vaccine.

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a serious mosquito-borne viral disease. A few days after being bitten by a mosquito that carries the virus, you'll enter the acute phase of the disease. During the acute phase, people suffer from symptoms that are unpleasant but not generally life-threatening, such as headaches, fever, muscle aches, and dizziness. The acute phase lasts for several days, and for many people, that is the end of the disease.

Other people aren't so lucky and enter the toxic phase of yellow fever a couple days after they start to feel better. The toxic phase is what can kill you. It leads to symptoms like jaundice, organ failure, seizures, and coma. According to the World Health Organization, epidemics of yellow fever can kill more than 50% of sufferers. Getting vaccinated before your trip is the best way to keep yourself safe.

Which travelers are at risk?

If you plan to travel to parts of Africa or South America, you may be at risk. Yellow fever is endemic to much of West Africa, Equatorial Africa, and East Africa. It's also endemic to the Amazon region of South America and surrounding areas.

Your destination isn't the only risk factor; your planned activities also play a role. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, such as camping, hiking, or biking, you're more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than you would be if you planned to stay indoors.

How is the vaccine given?

This vaccine is only given at approved centers, so your doctor may need to send you to another office to get it. The vaccine is given in the form of a single injection. Even though only one shot is needed, you still shouldn't wait until right before your trip to get it, as your certificate of vaccination won't be valid until ten days after your shot.

How effective is the vaccine?

This vaccine is very effective. It's almost 100% effective and will last for the rest of your life. Some countries require you to get booster shots every 10 years, even though this is no longer medically necessary, so depending on your travel plans, you may need a booster shot in the future.

If you plan to travel to Africa or South America, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated for yellow fever. Contact a company like Rocky Mountain Family Physicians for more information.