The Yellow Fever vaccination requirements seem to create some confusion with some Travel Agents. Travelers who do not need the vaccine are advised to have it and others that do need it are sent on their way without being told that it is required.

Let’s see if we can clear up the confusion!

First of all, why do we vaccinate against a disease?

Answer: So we don’t get the disease! Our bodies build up antibodies to the specific disease that you are immunised against when you receive the vaccine.

Take for instance Yellow Fever disease. It is a killer disease that occurs in tropical Africa and South America. It is transmitted by a mosquito and can kill you within two weeks. The disease can become hemorrhagic in nature and you die an incredibly painful death bleeding from every orifice.  So it’s a good idea to be protected against this disease if you travel to these areas. Not only that, but we also want to prevent the importation of Yellow Fever disease to vulnerable countries e.g. South Africa. The Yellow Fever vaccine gives almost 100% protection against Yellow Fever, from 10 days after receiving the vaccination.

If you live in South Africa and fail to comply with the compulsory Yellow Fever vaccination requirements when visiting a Yellow Fever area, you can, by law, be held in quarantine on your return to SA for up to 10 days. You could be harboring the disease and start an outbreak here in a nonlisted country. For a list of Yellow fever areas go to www.who.int. The same principal applies if you are only in transit in a Yellow Fever listed area on your way to a non-Yellow Fever area..

Here are a few examples:

– Previously, most people traveled from RSA to India via Nairobi. (SA – Non YF, Kenya – YF listed, India – Non YF) The Indian authorities insisted on a Yellow Fever vaccination because of this stopover in Kenya. Presently, flights to India are direct, or via Dubai, which are all non YF areas. No Yellow Fever vaccination is required.

– A traveler from RSA to  Angola, Ghana or Brazil (all listed countries) needs to have this vaccination done at least 10 days before leaving (the corporate traveler is often told a day before that  they are leaving, which  means they are not protected against Yellow fever and need to take protective anti-mosquito precautions) However if a traveler from RSA was going to Mozambique, Malawi( none of these are listed countries) A vaccination is not required.

-A traveler to Argentina, who stops over en route in Brazil (e.g. Sao Paolo) would also need a Yellow Fever Vaccination as Brazil is a listed country.