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Why is the yellow fever vaccine so hard to find?



It can be hard to find the yellow fever vaccine primarily because (a) few clinics are authorized by their state to provide the yellow fever vaccine, and (b) Google clutter.


Only a few, select medical clinics and pharmacies are certified by their state to provide the yellow fever vaccine

Arizona, for example, requires that a supervising physician or nurse practitioner be trained and experienced with providing the yellow fever vaccine prior to the clinic or pharmacy obtaining a yellow fever certification. This is to ensure that the facility has the necessary expertise and oversight to provide travel vaccines in accordance with CDC guidelines.


Google clutter confuses people searching for the vaccine

Unfortunately, many websites that don't provide yellow fever vaccines in your area may rank high for queries like "yellow fever vaccine near me." Travel clinics, such as Away Clinic, that actually do carry the vaccine are often drowned out by the noise. Here are a few examples:

  • Government sites: Sites such as the CDC and local government health departments talk about the yellow fever vaccine and rank high on Google for queries like "yellow fever vaccine near me" but don't actually provide the vaccine, confusing searchers. They are likely to provide a list of approved "yellow fever clinics" but the majority of approved yellow fever clinics also don't carry the vaccine. This can be confusing for Google searchers.

  • Referral sites: Sites such as Solvehealth can create quite a bit of confusion because not only do they not provide the yellow fever vaccine though they rank high for queries like "yellow fever shot near me," but they also don't have correct up-to-date information about where to get the vaccine. They recommend people go to hospitals, urgent cares and pharmacies, all of which are unlikely to be able to help you out with the yellow fever vaccine.

  • Pharmacy sites: The vast majority of pharmacies do not provide the yellow fever vaccine though they nearly all claim to carry it on their website. Here's how it works at large pharmacy chains: (1) They will require you to set up a consultation with their travel health expert, or get a prescription for the vaccine (depending on the pharmacy), (2) you set up a time to come in and get the vaccine which they have to order, and wouldn't normally keep in stock for last minute travelers, and (3) you'll have to drive to whatever clinic in your region can do travel vaccines. The problem is that even though you can potentially get the yellow fever vaccine at a pharmacy, it requires so much prior planning that it is practically unavailable to most travelers who only think to get the yellow fever shot a few days before they leave.

  • Inactive travel clinics: Often, family medical practices will claim to provide the yellow fever shot and may team up with "Travel Clinics of America." Even when they stop offering the yellow fever vaccine, their advertisements often stay up on the internet, confusing people who need to get the yellow fever vaccine.

Conclusion

The best option for most people is to search for an actual travel clinic. That way you can get the yellow fever vaccine right away in your first visit, and you know they will have it in stock. Travel clinics don't normally take insurance because yellow fever vaccine and other travel-related vaccines are typically not covered by insurance but you can get an itemized receipt that you can use to seek reimbursement from your employer or insurance company if you do have coverage.

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