Do You Need a Yellow Fever Vaccine?



November ends and the holiday season kicks in, but a Yellow Fever scare across Nigeria remains.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 14 states have confirmed cases. At least 13 deaths have been reported so far.

Because vaccination is available, Yellow Fever inspires less dread than other viral diseases like Ebola. But it features similar manifestations like fever and bleeding from orifices. NCDC describes the Yellow Fever virus as “spread through bites by an infected mosquito”. It spreads by the same aedes mosquito notorious for Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue virus.

The good news is that it is a “completely vaccine preventable disease and a single shot provides immunity for a lifetime” [Emphasis added]. The Centre says YF vaccine is “freely available to all children under one year as part of the routine immunisation schedule in primary health care centres in Nigeria”. After vaccination, it takes 10 to 14 days for a person to develop immunity to the yellow fever virus.

140 cases were laboratory confirmed in Nigeria as at November 11, per NCDC, and there has been a case from every state since September 2017. If that means genuine concern exists, what is an adult to do under these circumstances? Most people are not exactly sure of the content of the immunisation received at infancy.

Get Shot

Dr Imagbenikaro’s advise above would seem a good place to start. The key encouragement is “even if you have been vaccinated before”. The Yellow Card issued to travelers from and to Nigeria contains a reminder to the bearer that the vaccine should be renewed after 10 years. However, a number of people manage to obtain the card without getting the shot, putting thousands of travelers and non-travelers at risk. Some have blamed medical authorities at airports who do not check anyway for this development. Either way, the important thing is for every individual to ensure they are safe by being vaccinated. (Pregnant women are not required to vaccinate unless during an outbreak; such should confirm from their physicians in the present circumstance).

Take Care

As with other diseases, prevention pays. NCDC emphasizes the need for maintaining a clean environment. The ubiquity of mosquitoes in daily Nigerian life poses a challenge to eradicating Yellow Fever but everyone must do what they can to keep contact with them at the barest minimum. Consolidate the defense vaccination provides by being purposeful about a stagnant-water free surrounding.

Ask a Doctor

Yellow Fever cannot be transmitted from person to person. But it is still dangerous enough to kill half of the patients who enter the toxic phase within 10 to 14 days, according to WHO. Beside yellow eyes, its symptoms mimic regular fevers. Hence, those who feel feverish are advised to visit medical centres and undergo tests to be certain.

Confirm that the increase in your body temperature, if you feel any, is simply routine holiday fever. If it’s not, early detection can ensure you get through the vibe of the season in the state of health you desire.


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