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Yellow Fever Vaccine

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by a virus spread by infected mosquitos, though it cant be spread directly from person to person. The symptoms of yellow fever begin with fever, headache, chills, and nausea/vomiting, and can progress to jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), liver, kidney, and respiratory failure, and death. Yellow fever occurs mainly in certain parts of Africa and tropical South America.

What is the yellow fever vaccine?

The yellow fever vaccine can prevent yellow fever and is given only at approved vaccination centers that can provide the traveler with a valid International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). This certificate is valid for 10 years from the date of vaccination and it is required to enter certain countries. The vaccine must be administered at least 10 days prior to travel.

Who should get the yellow fever vaccine?

  • People 9 months of age and older traveling to countries that require proof of yellow fever vaccination
  • People 9 months of age and older traveling to parts of South America and Africa where the risk of yellow fever is known to exist

Who should not get the yellow fever vaccine?

  • People with moderate or severe illness (for example, a severe cold, flu or infection of the sinuses or lungs) should not receive the vaccine until symptoms of the illness improve.
  • People with an allergy or hypersensitivity to eggs, chicken, and gelatin.
  • Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and nursing mothers.
  • People should not get this vaccine if they have a weakened immune system for any reason, including:
    • HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
    • Treatment with steroids (such as prednisone) for two weeks or longer
    • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Persons with history of thymus disease, including myasthenia gravis, thymoma, or prior removal of thymus gland
  • Those who previously had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine should not be vaccinated.

What are the side effects of the yellow fever vaccine?

Mild-to-moderate problems:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever, headache, and muscle aches

Severe problems (Rare):

  • Severe nervous system reactions
  • Life-threatening severe illness with major organ system failure
  • Serious allergic reactions, with symptoms including:
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Wheezing
    • Hives
    • Paleness
    • Fast heartbeat
    • Dizziness

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever.

It is extremlely rare for these vaccines to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, call the doctor or seek immediate medical attention.

The yellow fever vaccine is available at Walgreens Pharmacy. Ages vary by state.

Walk in or schedule an appointment at the location nearest you.

If you believe you have a medical emergency,  please call 911.

Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit the CDC website, at, for more vaccine information.


Atkinson W, Hamborsky J, Stanton, A, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 12th ed., second printing. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2012.

Vaccine Information Statement: Yellow Fever Vaccine (What You Need to Know). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 03/30/2011. Accessed July 2014.

This publication should be used for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this publication.