About yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
It is found in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America.
Infection with the yellow fever virus causes varying degrees of disease, from mild symptoms to severe illness with bleeding and jaundice.
There are an estimated 200,000 cases of yellow fever worldwide each year.
About 15% of people infected with yellow fever develop a more severe form of the illness, and of those, up to half will die.
Survival rates are improved with supportive hospital care, however there is no specific cure for yellow fever.
Travellers to areas considered “at risk” can help limit the spread of the disease to vulnerable local populations by ensuring they are vaccinated where recommended.
See the World Health Organization Yellow Fever Fact Sheet for more information.
Yellow fever vaccine
Vaccination is the most important and effective measure against yellow fever.
The yellow fever vaccine provides effective immunity within 30 days for 99% of those vaccinated and over 600 million doses have been dispensed worldwide since vaccination began in the 1930s.
A single dose confers life-long protection - no booster doses are needed.
Serious side-effects from the vaccine are rare, however the risk of a reaction is higher for people over 60 years of age and anyone with severe immunodeficiency due to symptomatic HIV/AIDS or other causes, or who have a thymus disorder.
The following people/conditions are usually excluded from yellow fever vaccination:
- infants aged less than 9 months;
- pregnancy – except during a yellow fever outbreak when the risk of infection is high;
- severe allergy to egg protein; and
- severe immunodeficiency due to symptomatic HIV/AIDS or other causes, or who have a thymus disorder.
A careful risk-benefit assessment should be completed when considering vaccination for those aged over 60.
In New Zealand, yellow fever vaccine is only available from authorised yellow fever vaccinators operating from designated vaccination centres.
Vaccination and certification requirements when travelling
Countries are able to require proof of vaccination against yellow fever as a condition of entry, at their discretion.
These requirements do change on a regular basis and you are advised to seek up to date advice from a travel medicine specialist and/or the relevant country embassy(s) well before you travel.
New Zealand does not currently require proof of vaccination against yellow fever if you are travelling back from an at-risk area, however Australia and other countries commonly visited by New Zealanders may do, so be sure to check the requirements for all countries on your planned itinerary.
A single yellow fever vaccination (regardless of how long ago it was administered) is now considered to confer lifetime immunity starting from 10 days after administration – previously it was considered effective for up to 10 years.
The standard ‘International Health Regulation Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis’ certificate you receive recording the vaccination or any exemption is therefore now valid for life.
Authorised yellow fever centres
Authorisation of yellow fever vaccinators and vaccination centres
The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) now offers an education module for yellow fever vaccinators wishing to renew their authorisation.
It is 3 hours and includes an online course, a live webinar, and an assessment component. Please see the IMAC Learning website at https://lms.immune.org.nz for more details and how to enrol.
We have also compiled a wider list of providers that may offer courses, conferences and webinars towards general travel medicine CME for renewal of authorisation, which we'll update as we know more - see Yellow Fever Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements.
As a reminder, vaccinators wishing to renew at the end of their extended authorisation period will need to provide evidence of 15+ hours CME in general travel medicine, and 3+ hours YF-specific CME, since last authorised (nurses 9+ hours/3+ hours since last authorised).
See the Authorisation Policy below for the full renewal requirements.
All Yellow Fever vaccinators are only able to be fully authorised if they are operating from an authorised Yellow Fever centre, and vice versa.
If your centre is currently closed/not operating, current vaccinator authorisations can be held in a suspended state until the centre reopens, or the vaccinator applies to vaccinate from another centre, or the authorisation expires.
All vaccinators must continue to hold a current practising certificate.
Nurses who are Yellow Fever-authorised vaccinators must also maintain current authorised vaccinator status, and the Yellow Fever authorisation of nurses without authorised vaccinator status will be suspended until authorised vaccinator status is regained.
The requirement to be currently employed in travel medicine will be based on the last centre of employment.
Te Whatu Ora maintains a current list of approved BCG vaccination centre. Please notify email@example.com of any change to your clinic status, including temporary or permanent closure, moving premises, merging with another entity, or opening by appointment only.
Centres are expected to work with their local Immunisation Coordinator to ensure their Cold Chain Accreditation (CCA) is continuously maintained. Please initiate this process well before your current CCA expires.
Medical Officers of Health may audit centres or vaccinators when appropriate to ensure maintenance of public safety.
For general BCG centre or vaccinator questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications for authorisation as a yellow fever vaccinator or vaccination centre
To apply for or renew yellow fever authorisation, please print and send the completed forms, along with all supporting documentation (as per the included checklist) to your local Medical Officer of Health.
Ordering vaccination certificates
Stocks of HP4410: International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, for recording yellow fever and other international vaccinations, can be ordered online through Blue Star or by calling the Te Whatu Ora Contact Centre on 0800 855 066.