South America Essentials: Yellow Fever Vaccination

While building our itinerary, one of the (many) things we had to take note of are the vaccines required when entering new territories. Most countries in South America require tourists show of yellow fever vaccination certificate upon entry in accordance with the International Health Regulations.

What is Yellow Fever?

According to World Health Organization:

Yellow fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

Yellow fever can be recognized from historic texts stretching back 400 years. Infection causes a wide spectrum of disease, from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. The “yellow” in the name is explained by the jaundice that affects some patients, causing yellow eyes and yellow skin.

Although majority of South American countries are included in the list of countries with risk of yellow fever virus transmission, only a portion of these countries are in actual risk. It means, these portions are mostly limited to areas with entry access to Amazon rainforest. Still, we cannot take the risk since Foz do Iguaçu is part of our IT.

Yellow Fever key facts

Mosquitoes, being the primary vector of the virus, transmit it to another host – often monkeys. The infected monkeys will then pass the same virus to other mosquitoes that feed on them. These are now the mosquitoes that bite humans entering rainforests.

According to WHO:

  • Up to 50% of severely affected persons without treatment will die from yellow fever.
  • There are an estimated 200,000 cases of yellow fever, causing 30 000 deaths, worldwide each year, with 90% occurring in Africa.

Yellow fever is a fatal disease so it’s necessary that tourists traveling to yellow fever endemic countries get their shots beforehand.

Where to get Yellow Fever vaccination in Philippines?

A few researches on web led us to the Bureau of Quarantine office located in Manila, near Manila Hotel and Gate 1 of South Harbor. Since the Cheese and I have work on weekdays, we scheduled to have our vaccination on a Saturday. We arrived at 10:30 in the morning to an empty office with a guard informing us of the new Saturday schedule. Drat.

So we had to come back again the next Saturday and, this time we made sure we were early. We arrived a little after 9am with 7 other persons in line waiting to get their yellow fever vaccination. We were given 2 papers to fill up information with such as place traveling to and allergies if there are any.

Around 9:25, one of the ladies administering the vaccination started calling those in line one by one. When my turn finally came (I was second to the last), she was clearly upset to find out that I have an allergy (crabs). The next guy (last in line) also happened to have an allergy (crabs, too! haha) so she shooed us to the end of the room to wait for the doctor’s advice. I think she was mostly upset because it was already 9:30, they had to close the office at 10:00. However, us having allergies meant extending their hours.

We had to be tested first, see if our skins will have a reaction with the vaccine. We were given small dosage of shots on our arms and had to wait for 30 minutes to see if our bodies will have any (violent) reaction to it. I sincerely wish my body won’t have any reaction because that would be super hassle!

Luckily, I didn’t have any (nor did the other guy)! We were finally given the complete shot at 10:05 then paid the 1,500 pesos fee, and waited for our yellow cards to be released.

Easy peasy, actually.

Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate

We’re almost ready, South America!

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Bureau of Quarantine
Pier 15-Gate 1, South Harbor, Manila
Mondays to Fridays: 8:00 – 3:00pm
Saturday: 8:00 – 10:00am

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