New yellow fever vaccination requirements for travelers
Yellow fever certificates are now valid ‘for the life of the person vaccinated’ 11 July 2016 As of 11th July 2016 new rules regarding Yellow Fever have come in to force. From now on, certificates given as proof of receiving a Yellow Fever vaccination will now state that they are valid ‘for the life of the person vaccinated’.
If you already have a Yellow Fever certificate issued before 11th July 2016 it will have a valid to’ date on it showing a date 10 years from the date you were given the vaccination. You can now simply ignore this date. Do not cross it out or make any changes to your certificate as writing on the certificate can make it invalid. However, you can consider that it is now valid for life.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of 11th July 2016, all Yellow Fever certificates can no longer legally be declined, or booster vaccinations recommended, on the basis that the original Yellow Fever vaccination and certificate were given more than 10 years ago. However, at the present time, we do not know exactly how this legal change is going to play out in reality on the ground.
If your Yellow Fever certificate is approaching or over 10 years old, InterHealth would suggest that you carry a copy of this alert with you, along with your Yellow Fever certificate whenever you travel. You can also get in touch with our specialist nurses for further advice. Background Traditionally we did not know how long the protection from the Yellow Fever vaccine would last so the advice was to re-vaccinate every 10 years.
As a result, International Certificates of Vaccination against Yellow Fever were only deemed valid for 10 years. This was officially set out in the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), which was agreed by 196 countries around the world. These IHR covered many topics relating to communicable diseases, travel, and trade, however, Yellow Fever is the only disease mentioned in the document for which countries may ask for a proof of vaccination.
Yellow Fever is discussed in Annex 7 of the IHR (2005). Since 2005, evidence has emerged showing that the Yellow Fever vaccine protects the vaccinated individual for much longer than 10 years (as long as they were immunologically well at the time of vaccination). In May 2014, following a meeting of experts, Annex 7 of the 2005 IHR was amended to state that one dose of Yellow Fever vaccine would now protect the vaccinated individual for life rather than just 10 years.
There has not been any change to the Yellow Fever vaccination itself, only to the rules regarding how long the vaccine protection is seen as valid for. The WHO gave individual countries two years to adopt this amendment.
During this time we have already seen many countries change their official certificate requirements from regarding Yellow Fever certificates as valid for 10 years to seeing them as valid for life. However, the amendment became legally binding on the 11th July 2016 for all of the 196 countries signed up to the 2005 IHR.
Therefore “as of 11 July 2016, for both existing or new certificates, revaccination or a booster dose of yellow fever vaccine cannot be required of international travelers as a condition of entry into a State Party, regardless of the date their international certificate of vaccination was initially issued”