NY Travel Clinic

Limited Supplies of Travel Vaccines

For Americans who want to travel to Africa or certain parts of South America and want a yellow fever vaccine may have to wait or may have to change their travels plans. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral infection and vaccination is recommended before travelling in endemic areas.

 

It appears that the supply of yellow fever vaccine in the US will run out by mid-summer. However, the US Food and Drug Administration is making plans to make a comparable form of the vaccine which will only be available at limited centers through an expanded Access Investigational Drug Program.

 

One such program is Riverstone Health in Montana; one of the 250 locations in the nation which will offer the substitute yellow fever vaccine. For some years, there have been delays in the manufacture of the regular yellow fever vaccine in the US and supplies have dwindled. This substitute vaccine called Stamaril is manufactured in France and has been licensed for over 3 decades. It has been distributed in nearly 70 countries. Stamaril is considered to be an effective and safe vaccine for yellow fever.

 

However, how many doses of stamaril will be available in the US remains unknown and hence travelers who want to visit South America should first contact one of the 250 centers that will be distributing this vaccine. The FDA has made available information about the vaccine to all local health departments in the country.

 

Unfortunately for an infection like Zika virus or Chikungunya virus there are no vaccines on the horizon. The Zika virus is spread from the bite of the aedes aegypti mosquito and has been linked to birth defects in babies and neurological deficits in adults. Today, Zika is a public health emergency in many parts of South and Central America.

 

All travelers traveling to endemic countries where Zika virus is present should take special precautions to prevent mosquito bites. The initial symptoms are nonspecific but may include headache, fever, and rash. The majority of individuals who acquire this virus have no symptoms. When a pregnant female is infected with it, the outcome can be devastating as many babies have been born with severe deformities of the skull (microcephaly) and brain damage.

 

It is advised that unless and until it’s absolutely necessary, traveling to Zika infected regions as well as areas where Yellow fever is prevalent, should be delayed. The CDC website offers up to date information to travelers on vaccine requirements and recommendations.