Travel the world.

John D. Wilson, M.D.
1200 Hilyard St., Ste. 560
Eugene, Oregon 97401 USA
fax 541.485.7702

Yellow Fever Vaccine (and other Preventive Measures) for Travelers

Eugene has recently been designated a STAMARIL Yellow Fever Vaccine Center. To understand what this means, please read on.

Yellow fever is a serious, potentially fatal disease caused by a mosquito transmitted virus which may be contracted by travelers to some destinations in central Africa or central South America. For decades, the US has had an effective, readily available vaccine for yellow fever, YF-VAX, supplied by Sanofi Pasteur. Manufacturing problems arose in the US plant; this vaccine will likely not be available again until July 2018. It will be replaced temporarily by a similar French yellow fever vaccine, STAMARIL. Meanwhile, we are in the middle of a world-wide yellow fever vaccine shortage due to epidemics in Brazil, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sanofi has set up 250 "STAMARIL clinics" in the US, far fewer than the 4000 YF-VAX clinics we have had until recently. Three STAMARIL clinics have been established in Portland and. area; Eugene has been chosen as Oregon' only STAMARIL clinic in Oregon outside the Portland area, thus ensuring that people will not have to travel as far to obtain this vaccine.

All yellow fever vaccines contain live virus and they are the only vaccines for which I have a safety concern. In YF vaccine recipients, there is a tiny incidence (perhaps 1 per 100,000 or 0.001%) of a yellow fever-like illness, with a 50% death rate in those who develop this side effect of the vaccine. For this reason, yellow fever vaccine is given only by those who possess a special license to do so, and is given only to traveling patients who really need it. Some patients should not receive yellow fever vaccine. Some countries do not allow some travelers to enter unless they possess a Yellow Fever Certificate signifying that they have received the vaccine.

To put some of this in perspective: We are living in a truly remarkable time. Public health measures have decreased the burden of many infectious diseases in the United States and worldwide. The most efficient of these measures are vaccines. Those of us born since 1960 will not have memories or understanding of the ill effects of measles, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, meningitis, mumps, chicken pox or rubella, and may not understand vaccines' importance. Vaccines which caused significant side effects in the past (prior formulations of typhoid, pertussis, rotavirus and oral polio vaccines, as well as vaccines for smallpox and Lyme disease) have now been replaced by safer versions or have been taken off the market.

Everyone living in the United States (including travelers) can choose from effective, safe vaccines for 18 different diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis, HPV, rotavirus, HIB, varicella, shingles, pneumococcal pneumonia, influenza and rabies.

For travelers to destinations outside the US, disease risk depends on geography. Vaccine- preventable diseases of concern for travelers include hepatitis A, influenza, typhoid fever, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis. Some travelers may wish to review other concerns, for which there are no vaccines, including malaria (preventable with medication), prevention and treatment of diarrhea, mosquito and sun protection, dengue-like illnesses, jet lag and altitude sickness. Several diseases are mentioned on both lists, signifying their importance for both travelers and those staying home. Discuss whether you are at risk for these diseases with your doctor.

It would be best for traveling patients who may need YF vaccine to plan far in advance, have an
evaluation by a travel medicine practitioner, and call a STAMARIL clinic to schedule an
appointment if YF vaccine is indicated. To inquire of The Travel Clinic about either YF-VAX or
STAMARIL, access and send an email through our website
describing your situation.

Those wishing more information on these issues may consult contents 

and especially the Yellow Fever chapter related-to- travel/yellow-fever

John D. Wilson, M.D.
The Travel Clinic


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  John D. Wilson, M.D. 1999-2017; Last Update 9/23/2017