Travellers Going to Yellow Fever Areas

Update on Recent Yellow Fever Vaccine Shortage:

There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.

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Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres

For Health Care Sites

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a disease that is present in many areas of South America and Africa, and is caused by a virus that is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Yellow fever can be prevented by a vaccine.

Why do I have to get vaccinated against yellow fever?
  • Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their individual protection.
  • Requirements are put in place by certain countries to protect both individual travellers and countries from the risk of importing or spreading the yellow fever virus.
  • If these requirements apply, you will need an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis as proof of vaccination.
Which countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination?
  • A list of yellow fever country entry requirements for yellow fever vaccination is available from the World Health Organization.
  • It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify additional entry requirements.
  • If you do not show a valid certificate at the country border when requested, you may not be allowed to enter, you may be quarantined for up to six (6) days or put under medical surveillance, or you may be required to be vaccinated at point of entry.
If a country doesn't require proof, should I still get vaccinated?

Not all countries where yellow fever exists require proof of vaccination, but you may still be at risk of getting the disease. It is recommended that travel plans include consulting a travel health clinic, Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre, or other health care provider preferably six weeks before departure for an individual assessment to determine the need for immunizations and/or preventive medication, and to get advice on precautions to reduce health risks.

Where do I get the yellow fever vaccine?

Click here to find a Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre near you.

It is recommended that travel plans include consulting a travel health clinic, Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre, or other health care provider preferably six weeks before departure for an individual assessment to determine the need for immunizations and/or preventive medication, and to get advice on precautions to reduce health risks.

What should I expect during my visit to a Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre?

When you visit a Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre, a health care provider should :

  • Assess whether the vaccine is required for your itinerary;
  • Assess whether the vaccine is recommended, if it is not required;
  • Administer the vaccine if indicated;
  • Provide you with additional advice on how to protect yourself against yellow fever;
  • Provide you with written proof of yellow fever vaccination on the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis;  
  • If required, may provide you with written documentation explaining why you cannot receive the yellow fever vaccine for medical reasons.
What do I take as proof of yellow fever vaccination when I travel?

The International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis is the official document to show proof of vaccination against yellow fever.

Where do I get the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis?

The health care provider who gives you the vaccine must provide you with a completed International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

How long is an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis valid?
  • The certificate becomes valid 10 days after the vaccine is received.
  • The certificate is valid for the life of the person vaccinated.
Why does my certificate have an expiry date rather than state “life of the person vaccinated”?
  • An International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis issued prior to 2016 will indicate a validity period of 10 years.
  • A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is now considered protective for life.
  • Lifetime validity applies to new certificates and certificates issued prior to 2016.
What do I do if my certificate has an expiry date  other than "life of the person vaccinated"?
  • Individuals with a certificate issued prior to 2016 should continue to use their existing certificate.
  • Do not try to change a certificate. Any changes made to an existing certificate may invalidate it.
  • Travellers with certificates indicating a validity of 10 years may want to carry a copy of the World Health Organization’s Amendment to International Health Regulations (2005), Annex 7 (yellow fever), which announces lifelong validity of the vaccine in case of difficulties at an international border.
If the yellow fever vaccine is protective for life,  why do some people need to get yellow fever boosters?
  • Some individuals at increased risk of infection should receive one or more booster doses of yellow fever vaccine. This includes:
    • Individuals immunized during a period of reduced immunocompetence
    • Individuals who underwent a stem cell transplant after their last vaccination
    • Individuals who received a dose insufficient for long term protection
    • Individuals at a particularly high risk of exposure
    • Laboratory personnel working with yellow fever virus
What stamp should be on the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis?

Each designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre has been given stamps with a unique identification number by the Public Health Agency of Canada. This number contains the province code and a unique four-digit number. Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres must use this stamp on the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in the column marked “Official stamp of the administering centre”.

If your certificate was issued in Canada prior to 2012 and bears a Public Health Agency of Canada stamp, it will remain valid until it expires.

I need to show proof of yellow fever vaccination during my trip, but I cannot receive the vaccine for medical reasons. What should I do?

If you cannot receive the vaccine for medical reasons, but you are travelling to a country that requires proof of vaccination, the health care provider may provide you with written documentation explaining their medical opinion.

This can be done on official letterhead from the health care site, or using the Certificate of Medical Contraindication to Vaccination, which is provided to all designated sites by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

This document is valid for the duration of your trip.

I lost my International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. What should I do?

If you have lost your International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, contact the Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre where you received the vaccine. They will be able to provide you with a new certificate.

It is strongly recommended that you keep your certificate in a safe place.

I lost my International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, but the Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre where I received my vaccine no longer exists. What can I do?
  • If you have lost your International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, but the Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre where you received the vaccine no longer exists, contact another Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre.
  • The health care provider may choose to reissue a certificate if they feel that you have acceptable proof of prior vaccination.
  • If you do not have acceptable proof of vaccination, you will need to be revaccinated in order to receive a new certificate.
  • To avoid unnecessary revaccination, it is strongly recommended that you keep your certificate in a safe place.
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