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Yellow fever

Learn more about the condition

Trip of a lifetime, family holiday or backpacking, whatever the reason for your jet setting make sure you’re up to date with all your vaccinations and travel medication. Here we talk about yellow fever.

What is yellow fever & how do you catch it?

Yellow fever is a serious infection spread through the bite of a mosquito. The mosquitoes that have the virus are usually found in towns and rural areas, and tend to bite during the day. Areas where there’s a risk of yellow fever are:

• Most of Sub-Saharan Africa

• Most of South America

• Parts of Central America

• Parts of the Caribbean

Some countries require proof of the vaccination to enter the country.

Signs & symptoms

In the early stages (generally three to six days after being infected) yellow fever symptoms include:

• High temperature

• Headache

• Nausea or vomiting

• Muscle pain and backache

• Eyes being sensitive to light

• Loss of appetite and feeling generally unwell

The majority of people who contract yellow fever make a full recovery after three or four days. More serious symptoms include:

• Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)

• Bleeding from the mouth, nose or eyes

• Vomiting blood or blood in stools

When symptoms reach this more serious stage, consequences can be fatal so seek medical attention immediately. 


There is currently no cure for yellow fever. Serious symptoms will need to be monitored and may need to be treated in hospital, so you should seek urgent medical attention if you experience any.


Even though the yellow fever vaccination protects you against the virus, it’s important to take precautions to reduce the risk of getting bitten and contracting other mosquito spread diseases. Preventative methods include:

• Cover exposed skin when you’re outside both day and night

• Use 50%+ DEET insect repellent

• Avoid areas near stagnant or non-flowing water

• Use a mosquito net to cover your bed whilst you sleep


If you’re travelling to an area with a risk of yellow fever there’s a highly effective vaccination given as an injection in the upper arm. The vaccination needs to be administered at least 10 days before travel to allow it time to work. In some cases, people who have the vaccine can experience minor side effects, which can include:

• Headaches

• Muscle pain 

• A mild fever 

• Soreness around the injection

The vaccination has also been associated with some more serious side effects which are very rare. It's important that you're aware of these, but also that the serious consequences of contracting yellow fever can be fatal. Your local Boots pharmacist will discuss these aspects with you at your appointment

How long does the yellow fever vaccination last?

The yellow fever vaccination provides lifelong protection and certificates are valid for life. Booster injections aren't needed for most travellers. If you’re not sure if or when you had the yellow fever vaccination or you think you need a booster, your local Boots pharmacist will be able to advise you further.

Our service

For a free assessment, expert advice and vaccinations, book an appointment online with Boots Travel Vaccinations and Health Advice Service.* Ideally, this should be six to eight weeks before departure, but it’s never too late to seek advice if you're leaving sooner. 

*Available in selected stores. Subject to eligibility criteria, specially trained pharmacist and stock availability. Charges apply