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

Yellow Fever Vaccine Shortage

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 for another year. 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. Five STAMARIL clinics have been established around Portland. Eugene has been chosen as Oregon's only STAMARIL clinic 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. The rate of this side effect increases with age to 2.5 per 100,000 at age 70. 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.

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. Travelers and providers may inquire of The Travel Clinic about either YF-VAX or STAMARIL by accessing to send an email, where more information is available.

Those wishing more information on these issues may consult

and especially the Yellow Fever chapter

John D. Wilson, M.D.
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  John D. Wilson, M.D. 1999-2018; Last Update 3/3/2018