Yellow fever is a viral disease that is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The disease is transmitted by two types of mosquitoes, one of which is responsible for the Zika virus. People can become infected when a mosquito bites an infected monkey and then bites a human being.
Yellow Fever Symptoms
Yellow fever can present with a range of symptoms, and while many infected individuals may experience mild or no symptoms, those who do become symptomatic typically experience a range of non-specific symptoms during the initial illness.
These may include fever, chills, headache, backache, muscle pain, prostration, nausea, and vomiting. While most patients improve after the initial presentation, in approximately 12% of cases, the disease progresses to a more severe form characterized by jaundice, hemorrhagic symptoms, and eventually shock and multi-organ failure.
This severe form of the disease is associated with a case-fatality ratio of between 30% and 60%.
Given the initial nonspecific nature of the symptoms, it can be difficult to distinguish yellow fever from other illnesses such as malaria or dengue, which are also common in regions where yellow fever is endemic. As such, early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment and management of the disease.
Why You Need the Yellow Fever Jab
Vaccination is the most important measure against yellow fever, and travelers should receive the vaccine before visiting areas where yellow fever is found. The vaccine must be approved by the WHO and administered by an approved yellow fever vaccination center.
Yellow fever vaccination is important for two distinct reasons.
Firstly, it helps prevent the international spread of the disease.
Countries that are free of yellow fever often require travelers arriving from regions where yellow fever is endemic to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate upon entry. This helps prevent the introduction and subsequent spread of the disease in these countries.
Secondly, the vaccine helps protect individual travelers who may be exposed to yellow fever infection during their travels.
While the risk of contracting yellow fever may vary depending on factors such as location and time of year, it is generally recommended that all individuals who plan to travel to regions where yellow fever is endemic get vaccinated. This is especially important for those who may be at increased risk of exposure, such as people who plan to spend time in rural or forested areas where the virus is most commonly transmitted.
By getting vaccinated, travelers can reduce their risk of contracting yellow fever and ensure their own health and safety while abroad.
Where is Yellow Fever Vaccine Injected?
Yellow fever vaccination is a process that involves several steps, including preparation, administration, and follow-up. The following is a general overview of the yellow fever vaccination process:
Before getting vaccinated, individuals should consult with a healthcare provider to ensure that the vaccine is safe and appropriate for them. It is also important to check the requirements of the country or region to which they are traveling, as some may require proof of yellow fever vaccination before entry. Individuals should also make sure to schedule the vaccination at a designated yellow fever vaccination center.
The yellow fever vaccine is typically administered as a single injection into the upper arm. The vaccine contains a live attenuated strain of the virus and is considered safe and effective. After receiving the vaccine, individuals are typically observed for a short period of time to monitor for any adverse reactions.
After receiving the yellow fever vaccine, individuals should receive an international certificate of vaccination (yellow card) as proof of vaccination. This card must be presented upon entry to certain countries and should be kept in a safe place for future travel.
It is also important to note that the vaccine provides lifelong immunity for most individuals, but some may require a booster dose after 10 years, particularly if they continue to travel to areas where yellow fever is endemic.
How is Yellow Fever Managed?
Good and early supportive treatment in hospitals improves the survival rate for those infected with yellow fever. Although there is currently no specific anti-viral drug for yellow fever, specific care to treat dehydration, liver and kidney failure, and fever can improve outcomes. Associated bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics.
Do I Need YF Vaccine for Kenya
WHO vaccination recommendation: yes
It is recommended for all travelers who are 9 months or older to receive the yellow fever vaccine, with the exception of those whose travel is limited to the entire North Eastern Province; the states of Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Malindi and Tanariver in Coastal Province; and the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa , for whom the vaccine is generally not recommended.
Kenya yellow fever requirements
Country requirement at entry: a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers aged 1 year or over arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Where to Get the Vaccine and Cost
You can get the vaccine at Port health clinics located within all Kenyan airports, level 5 hospitals (if it is available) and selected private hospitals.
Check out this website (https://victormatara.com/list-of-hospitals-that-offer-yellow-fever-vaccine-in-nairobi/) for a complete list of vaccination centres in Kenya
The charges for Yellow fever vaccine are;
(For the yellow fever vaccine called Stamaril manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur)
Ksh 3000/- Nairobi City Hall health centre (previously Ksh 2500)
Ksh 3500/- Port Health Clinics
The cost of the vaccine may range between Ksh 2000/- to 3500/- depending with the health facility.
Finally, a brief history of YF and its impact on public health
Yellow fever has a long and devastating history, dating back to the 17th century when the first recorded outbreak occurred in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
Over the centuries, yellow fever has caused numerous outbreaks across Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, claiming the lives of millions of people. The disease was especially deadly in the Americas, where it played a significant role in the slave trade and the construction of the Panama Canal.
The discovery of the yellow fever virus in the early 20th century paved the way for the development of a vaccine, which has since been instrumental in preventing the spread of the disease. Today, yellow fever remains a significant public health concern, particularly in areas where the vaccine is not widely available or where outbreaks continue to occur.
The Ministry of Health in Kenya reported an outbreak of yellow fever in Isiolo on March 5th, 2022. During the period 12 January to 15 March 2022, a total of 53 suspected YF cases, including six deaths, were reported.
Gershman, M. D., & Staples, E. J. (2021, June 11). Yellow Fever. CDC.GOV. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-related-infectious-diseases/yellow-fever#table423
World Health Organization (2020, July 1). INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL AND HEALTH. WHO.INT. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/documents/emergencies/travel-advice/yellow-fever-vaccination-requirements-country-list-2020-en.pdf
Gianchecchi E, Cianchi V, Torelli A, Montomoli E. Yellow Fever: Origin, Epidemiology, Preventive Strategies and Future Prospects. Vaccines (Basel). 2022 Feb 27;10(3):372. doi: 10.3390/vaccines10030372. PMID: 35335004; PMCID: PMC8955180.
Nairobi County (2023, February 15). Nairobi City County announces availability of Yellow fever and polio vaccines. Nairobi City County. https://nairobi.go.ke/nairobi-city-county-announces-availability-of-yellow-fever-and-polio-vaccines/
Ministry of Health (MOH) (2022, March 5). Kenya on alert as it reports outbreak of yellow fever. Ministry of Health. https://www.health.go.ke/kenya-on-alert-as-it-reports-outbreak-of-yellow-fever/
World Health Organization (2022, March 25). Yellow fever – Kenya. WHO.INT. https://www.who.int/emergencies/disease-outbreak-news/item/2022-DON361