Why is the Yellow Fever Vaccine Not Recommended for Over 60s?

What are the Risks?

Yellow Fever is a very dangerous viral infection transmitted to people by certain-day mosquitoes. It can be found in parts of Africa, South America, Central America, and Trinidad in the Caribbean. Yellow Fever can cause serious illnesses such as headache, muscle soreness, Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), bleeding, and sometimes death. You cannot contract yellow fever by close contact with individuals who have it, however, if you are infected with the disease and a mosquito bites you then go to bite another person, that person will be at risk of getting the disease. Once you are infected with yellow fever there is no effective treatment or cure. For this reason, it is recommended that people traveling to high-endemic areas get the Yellow Fever vaccine at least 10 days before travel, allowing adequate time for the vaccine to work.

Potential Vaccine Risks for Individuals Aged 60 Years and Older

For most people serious side effects associated with the yellow fever vaccine are rare, however, due to the life-threatening side effects whose incidence increases with age, it is not recommended for people aged 60 years or over to receive the Yellow Fever vaccination. The vaccine should only be given to those 60+ if they are healthy and well with no weakened immune system or if there is no way for those in this risk group to avoid traveling to areas where the disease is common.

Over the 60s are at risk of developing serious neurotropic and viscerotropic complications after receiving the Yellow Fever vaccine.

Yellow Fever vaccine-associated neurological disease (YEL-AND) is a condition affecting the brain and nervous system, causing symptoms such as confusion and problems with movement and coordination. The risk of YEL-AND is estimated at 2.2 cases per 100,000 doses of vaccine given.

Yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL_AVD) is very similar to Yellow Fever itself with multi-organ failure and death in approximately 48% of cases. The risk of YEL-AVD is estimated at 1.2 cases per 100,000 doses of vaccine given.

It is very important to obtain professional advice and information regarding all the risks and benefits associated with the Yellow Fever vaccine. To identify any potential contraindication, visit a travel health clinic in Kingston for an individual assessment.