top of page

Traveler's Comprehensive Guide to Yellow Fever

How do I get a Yellow Card for Yellow Fever Vaccination?

When you receive a yellow fever vaccination, you will be presented a ‘yellow card’ showing proof of vaccination, otherwise known as the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. This card is good for the rest of your life.

Originally, there was a 10 year rule regarding yellow fever vaccines. A booster every ten years was required for entrance into some destinations. The World Health Organization discontinued this rule in May 2014. Now, even "expired" yellow cards allow you to gain entry into your destination country.

If you are needing a tourist visa to visit your destination country, the yellow card is usually mailed with your application. You want to take pictures or copies of your yellow card in the event that it gets lost. If you can show proof of prior vaccination, you can get a new yellow card written at a certified yellow fever vaccination center.

If you think you may have received a yellow fever vaccination before, you can sometimes find the record through the state immunization registry. In the event you are able to track down your prior vaccination record, you can get a new yellow card to show proof at your destination country.

How is Yellow Fever Treated?

There is no cure for yellow fever. Treatment revolves around comfort care and pain management. Ibuprofen and naproxen are avoided due to increased risk of bleeding.

A hole in your bedroom screens, not applying mosquito repellent as often as needed, or wearing shorts and tank tops can put you at risk of mosquito bites and yellow fever.

Symptoms include sudden fever, severe headache, back pain, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and general body aches. The majority of people experiencing these symptoms improve, but approximately 15% will appear to improve before developing severe yellow fever.

Severe symptoms include high fever, yellowing skin and eyes, bleeding, shock, and organ failure. The “yellow” in yellow fever comes from the yellowing of the skin in the disease process. About 20-50% of these patients die.

Rest, fluids, and pain relievers are the main tools doctors use to manage yellow fever symptoms. Because yellow fever is a viral infection, antibiotics are not administered.

Early hospital treatment can improve survival rates. Treating the fever, dehydration, and liver and kidney failure can better patients’ conditions and keep them comfortable.

What if my Yellow Card Says it is Expired?

If you received a yellow card previously, at Away Clinic we can transcribe your information to a new yellow card. The World Health Organization discontinued the 10 year booster rule back in May 2014, so a single yellow fever shot is now good for life.

The yellow fever vaccine you received was either YF-VAX or Stamaril. In the United States, YF-VAX is the only yellow fever vaccine available. It is approved for people aged 9 months and older.

At Away Clinic, you can have your yellow fever vaccination transcribed to a new yellow card in addition to your most recent travel vaccinations such as tetanus, typhoid, and more. Showing this card to your travel health providers helps them easily determine which vaccinations need updating.

Since yellow fever vaccination no longer expires, your yellow card is the best place to keep track of all your travel-related vaccinations. Have your healthcare provider add additional vaccines to your yellow card to keep everything contained to a single vaccination record.

When and Where is Yellow Fever a Higher Risk?

South American and African countries are the main areas where yellow fever is most prevalent. Yellow fever is more common at lower altitudes and tropical climates. Areas with a lot of standing water are breeding grounds for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Areas without much moisture are less likely to be a proper environment for mosquito populations.

The most active yellow fever transmission countries include Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Uganda.

Most of these countries require yellow fever vaccination to enter, but some only require it if you are traveling there from a country with risk of transmission. Check with a travel health advisor or the CDC for more information on whether a yellow fever vaccine is necessary based off your itinerary.

The wet season is the highest risk for yellow fever; listed in the table below are the rainy seasons for different parts of Africa:

North Africa


East Africa

April-June & October-December

Horn of Africa

February-April & June-October

Southern Africa


West Africa

April-July & September-October

In South America, the rainy season is January-May with a peak in February and March. Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, climbing, and more are also associated with a higher risk of yellow fever transmission. Advanced age is also a risk factor for severe yellow fever infection.

Ready to get a yellow fever vaccine or medical waiver? Contact Away Clinic to speak with a travel health professional.

bottom of page