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Yellow Fever Vaccinations and Travel Visas

by David | December 4th, 2010

If you’re traveling overseas to a country that requires visas for US citizens, you may need to make a doctor’s appointment before applying for your travel visa. That’s because some countries require that you submit proof you’ve been vaccinated for yellow fever along with your visa application. In the US, we don’t routinely get vaccinated for yellow fever, so unless you’ve already been to a country that requires visitors to be vaccinated, you are highly unlikely to have had the shot.

What is yellow fever, anyway? Found in the tropics, it’s a hemorrhagic fever spread by mosquitoes.  The virus basically causes flu-like symptoms (fever, nausea, vomiting and pain), and if you’re lucky, that’s all you’ll experience. If you’re not lucky, however, instead of shaking it off you’ll enter the “toxic” stage of the disease, which can result in liver failure and, in about 20% of cases, death.

There is no cure for yellow fever: treatment is based on easing symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, that means that “Vaccination is the single most important preventive measure against yellow fever. The vaccine is safe, affordable and highly effective, and appears to provide protection for 30–35 years or more. The vaccine provides effective immunity within one week for 95% of persons vaccinated.”

Because vaccination is the only real way to combat yellow fever, some countries require you to submit proof that you’ve been vaccinated before you can get a travel visa. Once you get your yellow fever vaccination, you’ll get a document called an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. This is good for 10 years, and you may need to submit a copy with your visa paperwork, carry it with you when you enter, or both.

To see if you’ll need to turn yourself into a pincushion before you travel, look up the country you’ll be visiting on this handy list provided by the CDC.

For more travel visa help, contact RushMyTravelVisa.

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RushMyTravelVisa is a private service not affiliated with the government. We charge an additional fee to expedite your travel visa application. You may obtain a visa directly from the embassy at a lower cost.