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Is the Yellow Fever Vaccine Good for Life?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023


Yes, the yellow fever vaccine is now considered to convey lifelong immunity.


What if the date on my yellow vaccine card says my yellow fever immunization is "expired?"

When pulling out your documents for your upcoming trip, you find your old yellow card. It says it expired in 2017, but did it really?The World Health Organization repealed the 10 year rule regarding yellow fever vaccines back in 2016. Any country requiring vaccination with the yellow fever vaccine should accept yellow cards with any date on them, including those that say “expired.”


It is unnecessary to have your yellow card rewritten to say that it is valid for the life of the person vaccinated, but if you have lost your yellow card, you can have it rewritten. You do need to show proof that you were vaccinated, though. This information must include the date you were vaccinated, the manufacturer of the vaccine, the lot number, and vaccination clinic.


Why the change?

Studies have shown that a single yellow fever vaccination can provide immunity for 35-40 years [1]. With such a long-term immune response, vaccination every ten years is unnecessary, especially for the elderly population to whom the yellow fever vaccine poses a possible health risk. The 10 year rule was outdated and research has clearly demonstrated recipients’ immune response lasts for much longer than originally thought.


More information about the yellow fever vaccine

Keeping all of your important documents accessible during international travel is important because your passport, yellow card, and COVID vaccine card could be requested by officials at the airport. A travel document organizer could be a good place to keep all of your materials together. Some potential options include passport wallets or passport holders. Traveling with children makes it even more important to keep everyone's documents accounted for.


The yellow fever vaccine is required for children over 1 year of age in countries that request yellow cards. Children under 6 months cannot receive the yellow fever vaccine, but it is not routinely recommended for children until they are 9 months old for travel. Live vaccines are given later in infants’ lives due to vaccines not working as well if they are still receiving immunity from their mother.


If you have a yellow card, you are able to travel to many countries in South America and Africa that were not previously available to you. The yellow fever vaccine is safe and effective for most children and adults without immune system disorders, but you can always talk to your doctor to learn more about your risk factors for yellow fever.


To make an appointment for a yellow fever vaccination card in Arizona, contact our Chandler or Scottsdale locations today. Please make a travel vaccine appointment at least 10 days in advance of your trip as the yellow card is not valid until 10 days after vaccination.


Sources

  1. Wieten, R. W., Jonker, E. F., van Leeuwen, E. M., Remmerswaal, E. B., Ten Berge, I. J., de Visser, A. W., ... & de Bree, G. J. (2016). A single 17D yellow fever vaccination provides lifelong immunity; characterization of yellow-fever-specific neutralizing antibody and T-cell responses after vaccination. PloS one, 11(3), e0149871.


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