Yellow Fever ExemptionAugust 22nd, 2013
Many people have recently been ringing our clinic and asking … Is it acceptable to have a medical exemption for yellow fever vaccine instead of the vaccination certificate? Some of our patients have been told by their travel agent that the exemption certificate is not good enough and they must get vaccinated. This is ill informed and dangerous and here is some information to help dispel this misunderstanding.
Yellow fever is a dangerous disease present in parts of Africa and South America. The World Health Organisation estimates there are 200,000 cases of yellow fever, and 30,000 deaths, worldwide each year.
The yellow fever vaccine is a very safe vaccine – with over 400million doses of vaccine being given over 60 years. However, everyone is different and some persons cannot be vaccinated safely.
Persons with some types of medical history cannot be safely vaccinated as they can develop serious side effects, even death from the vaccine.
It does not make sense to vaccinate persons with yellow fever if they could get really sick from the vaccine. The International Health regulations have a system for those people. Yellow fever vaccine providers are entitled to issue a medical yellow fever exemption certificate or a medical waiver.
“If there are medical grounds for not getting vaccinated, International Health Regulations state that this must be certified by the appropriate authorities.” World Health Organisation
A medical yellow fever exemption or waiver is perfectly legal and can be used in place of a vaccination certificate, provided it has the following:
- On letterhead from the designated yellow fever provider
- The travellers correct name and date of birth as it appears on their passport
- The dates that the exemptions relate to
- The signature of the travel doctor
- The yellow fever clinic stamp with special authorisation number
You cannot get a medical exemption because you would rather not have the vaccine, you don’t like vaccines, you are worried about side effects etc. You cannot get a medical exemption from any doctor.
Only a yellow fever approved centre can issue yellow fever exemptions. Properly trained travel medicine doctors are trained to know how much risk there is of yellow fever in different parts of the world, and know how much risk there is from different medical conditions and make a judgment about the safest course of action for any individual person and trip. Note: not all yellow fever providers in Australia undergo extra training, so it pays to ask about training and experience with the vaccine.