Ready to explore? Learn more about avoiding yellow fever while travelling

Before heading off on your travels, it’s important to be prepared. Here we learn about yellow fever, the vaccinations and treatments available.

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a serious infection spread by mosquitos. The mosquitoes that carry the yellow fever virus are usually found in towns and rural areas. They tend to bite during the day.

Yellow fever is found in places including:

• Parts of sub-Saharan Africa

• Parts of South America including Trinidad and Tobago

• Parts of Central America

Yellow fever isn’t found in Europe, the UK, Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands or New Zealand.

Signs & symptoms of yellow fever

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

• Having a fever

• Having a headache

• Nausea

• Being sick

• Body aches and pains

• Having a loss of appetite

• Feeling unwell

These symptoms can last for three or four days. In some cases, some people get more serious symptoms 24 hours after feeling better.

More serious symptoms can include:

• Yellowing of your skin and eyes (jaundice)

• Dark wee

• Stomach pain

• Bleeding in your vomit or poo

• Bleeding from your eyes, stomach, mouth or nose

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

If symptoms reach this more serious stage, they can be fatal so it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Make sure to ask for an urgent GP appointment or call NHS 111 if:

• You don’t feel well after travelling to a country where yellow fever is

If you aren’t well while you’re travelling, get medical help as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you’re back in the UK.

Treating yellow fever

There's currently no cure for yellow fever. Most people recover fully after three or four days.

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.

To help with your symptoms, you can:

• Take pain relief like paracetamol or ibuprofen

• Drink plenty of fluids to make sure that you’re staying hydrated

Preventing yellow fever

Even though the yellow fever vaccination can protect 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:

• Covering any exposed skin when you’re outside (during both day and night)

• Using 50%+ DEET insect repellent

• Avoiding areas which are near stagnant or still water

• Using a mosquito net to cover your bed while you’re asleep

Yellow fever vaccination

If you’re travelling to an area with a risk of yellow fever, there’s a highly effective vaccination available. This is given as an injection in the upper arm.

To visit some countries, you’re also required to have a certificate which proves that you’ve been vaccinated against yellow fever. This is known as an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP).

Make sure to keep your certificate safe and make a copy for your records.

The vaccination needs to be administered at least 10 days before travel to allow enough time for it to work. In some cases, people who have the vaccine can have minor side effects, which can include:

• Headaches

• A mild fever

• Muscle pain

• Feeling sore around the injection

These side effects don’t usually last for more than two weeks.

In some cases, you can get more serious side effects like an allergic reaction.

It's important that you're aware of these, but also that the serious consequences of contracting yellow fever can be fatal. Your Boots pharmacist will discuss these side effects with you at your appointment.

If you feel unwell within a few days or weeks of having the yellow fever vaccination, make sure to speak to your GP and tell them that you have had a yellow fever vaccination.

If you or your child has had the MMR vaccination, you’ll need to wait at least four weeks before having the yellow fever vaccination.

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 specialist health 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.

1. Book an appointment

Six to eight weeks before you travel you will need to have your travel health appointment to assess what vaccinations you need.

2. Attend a personalised risk assessment23

During the 40 minute travel health appointment our specially-trained pharmacist will advise on any vaccinations and antimalarials you need for your travelling.

3. Get any vaccinations & antimalarials you may need*

You'll also be given additional personalised advice to help you stay healthy on your trip

*Available in around 200 pharmacies. For people aged two and over. Eligibility criteria apply. Subject to availability. Charges apply.