First Timer Question - Dept of Health or Travel Clinic for Yellow Fever Vaccine?

I'm looking for the pros and cons of getting Yellow Fever Vaccine, etc, from the Dept of Health vs going to a Travel Clinic. From what I'm seeing, it appears to be much less expensive to go to the Dept of Health but Travel Clinics might be more comprehensive in their consultation. Any advice?


  • Travel clinics may try to sell you everything they’ve got. We went to our health care provider. It might take a couple months to get the yellow fever shot.

  • Yellow fever vaccines can only be found at designated Yellow fever approved centers. We got ours about 11 years ago and it was at a travel clinic, And SeaLord is correct, they will try to sell you every conceivable vaccine and pill.
    I have no idea whether every Travel clinic has the vaccine and certainly, there was a time in the past few years where there was a huge Yellow fever vaccine shortage. I have absolute no idea about the Dept of Health at all.
    My humble advice is to start early about finding where you can get it, and just get it, it will be a small amount of money compared to what you will fork out for the vacation and you will have this once in a lifetime vaccine under your belt.

  • In 2019, I was on the hunt for the Yellow Fever vaccine. It was no where to be had at the local hospitals, state Depts of Health or even the health clinics in Manhattan or Northern Jersey.

    Reluctantly I expanded my search and found it at a travel clinic in Connecticut (about 1 1/2 hours away)….but I was certainly given a high pressure sales jobs for all sorts of things.

    I said NO and was even able to secure a prescription for the malaria pills which I had to fill at a local Connecticut pharmacy (reasonably priced). The nurse at the clinic tried her hardest to get me to buy them from her at an exorbitant cost.

    I was willing to be scalped for the Yellow Fever vaccine because I couldn’t get it elsewhere!

  • In 2018 when it was virtually impossible to get the yellow fever vaccine we ended up getting it at our local county health department one month before our B,Z and SA trip. It was reasonable, we got the yellow cards and they entered it into the FL vaccine database. For us, once they got the doses, it worked well for us.

  • I'm 76 and really on the fence about the YF vaccine. Going to K & T next October so I have some time to think about it. I've had all those other vaccines that you need to travel but not that one.

  • edited October 2021

    My wife and I were right around 70 when we got the vaccine. We had no problem with it. I’ve actually had it twice. I had it in the military but not knowing any better I thought everything on my yellow card had expired so, when I cleaned out my desk, the old yellow card went in the shredder. Oops.

  • Thanks, Sealord.

  • On my K&T tour, the yellow card was inspected for the YF vaccine: the couple in front of me (not part of the Tauck group) didn’t have it and were escorted into the administrative building — just saying…

  • We also had to produce our Yellow fever card going from Zambia to Botswana, everyone had a card, so I don’t know what would have happened if we had not.

  • We were scheduled for K & T in July of '20, which of course was canceled and we have rescheduled. Living in Westchester County, NY on the border with CT, we went to Passport Health in Stamford, CT. Very professional and knowledgeable. It was easy to make an appointment on a Saturday so no loss of work and there was no problem with supply, unlike elsewhere. Passport Health has locations around the US. I can't find the receipt, but it definitely was not cheap as I recall, though not a big expense relative to the cost of the trip.

  • When my husband and I planned our trip to Africa we also went to Passport health in Orlando. We were 73 and 77 . We had an appointment. They also gave us the typhoid at the same time. We had no reaction, just a sore arm. But, they did have other products to sell. I recommend getting the prescription for the malaria and filling li later.

  • While this won't be helpful to most of you, if you have access to military health centers they can be fantastic for consultation and inoculations. They do know quite (understatement) a lot about the threats everywhere and we routinely schedule a visit several months before any "exotic" travels (i.e., outside of the USA, Canada and Europe). And then roll up our sleeves. They will always have Yellow Fever vaccine on hand.

  • Marie2021 - Find out if your hospital has a travel health department, I just returned from T & K, there was a lady in the group that claimed when she went to get her shots she was told that she did not need the yellow fever vaccine because she was over 65, I never hear of that before

  • Yes, it’s over 60, that’s what,many people say based on dodgy and over exaggerated side effects…..just like the Covid nonsense now. Some people get away with having a Doctor’s letter with a medical exemption. If you end up in a country with an outbreak or you get a border official who won’t accept, you risk being denied entry and Tauck won’t help you with that one.
    There are quite a few countries that want a Yellow fever vaccine, just one more shot we don’t have to worry about getting.

  • I really appreciate all the feedback here on the YF vaccine. It's leaning me in the direction of getting it. Have you all used the Evisa application process for Kenya?

  • No, we were last in Kenya in 2019 and haven’t used the E visa system yet.
    India, when we went, the visa application was a nightmare, it’s much easier now. My husband wanted to cancel the trip because the application was so difficult.

  • I'll second what Portolan said about military health clinics, especially at bases where units that deploy overseas are stationed. Years ago, before our first Africa trip, we stopped at MCAS Cherry Point where we normally went for health care since I'm a retiree, just to ask and set up an appointment. A corpsman asked if we wanted the shots now. You betcha- after a brief talk with a doc/nurse (?) to make sure we had no contra-indications, we got inoculated with everything we needed- including a few extras. I had two sore arms! :D

    I read in the Washington Post yesterday that the WHO just approved a malaria vaccination for children. I did not know there was such a thing. I would much prefer that to the pills which don't agree with my constitution. However, a little research yielded a bit more info.

    According to Wikipedia, "The only approved vaccine as of 2021 is RTS, S, known by the brand name Mosquirix. It requires four injections, and has a relatively low efficacy." An article in the NYT said, "In clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50 percent against severe malaria in the first year, but the figure dropped close to zero by the fourth year." That doesn't sound good. If/when we go back to Africa I may stick with the pills.

  • Alan, you won’t be getting a malaria vaccine choice any time soon. It’s just meant for children in Africa and is against a very specific strain of Malaria.
    Pleas remember that we are so incredibly lucky to have such effective vaccines against Covid because many vaccines, such as this new Malaria one, have much lower success rates but are still approved for use because they still save hundred of lives.
    This great BBC article explains it all really well.

    Historic go-ahead for malaria vaccine to protect African children

    On our first time to the K and T tour, we found ourselves next to a very interesting young man who was working on Malaria research with funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. They have put countless millions of dollars into this.

  • edited October 2021

    The Yellow Fever vaccine was almost impossible for us to get before our 2018 trip and we were very worried that we wouldn't get it. We heard there were bad batches but nothing confirmed that. We have gone to our local Giant Foods Pharmacy for ALL our vaccines and prescriptions and were able to get YF and all the others for K&T there. Tracy our pharmacist watched out for us and called us when they got 4 doses. The vaccine wasn't available anywhere else. Giant must be an approved YF facility because that's where we got the vaccine. We were there in 10 minutes. She doesn't try to sell anything and always looks out for us. Travel Clinics are great to get information but we will stay with our local Pharmacist who knows our vaccination history.

  • Again, many thanks for all these helpful comments! You are all a wealth of information. We are booked to get the YF shot at the Department of Health.

  • I am on the fence about the Yellow Fever Vaccine also. At age 71, my infectious disease specialist said he would write me an exemption letter because taking after a certain age has risks of transmitting it because it is a live vaccine and we will only be in Kenya for a couple of days. Sound right? On the August 22nd K&T trip

  • I don't remember my age at the time, 68+ for the most recent YF- we had no problems and no one we have heard of has had problems.

  • We were about 68 when we got ours and had no reaction at all.

  • There is a very good reason for people 70 and older to think twice before getting the yellow fever vaccine. And for those younger it is still a vaccine with significant adverse outcomes.

  • edited January 2022

    Any reaction is extremely rare indeed. If you dig deep into the research, you can see that adverse reactions are more rare than the press report. Covid vaccine has more reactions.
    There are pages and pages on the forum about Yellow fever vaccine, but only you and your dr know your health history. The question always is, will you be traveling to other countries in the future that also require the vaccine.
    This is a basic piece of information

    ‘A safe and effective yellow fever vaccine has been available for more than 80 years. A single dose provides lifelong protection for most people. The vaccine is a live, weakened form of the virus given as a single shot.’

    The key thing is, it’s a weakened form, as are many vaccines.

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