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One of the main ways to prevent yellow fever is to get the vaccine but, as with most vaccinations, it may come with side effects. Some of the most common yellow fever vaccine side effects are also the mildest, including flu symptoms, redness at the injection site and a low-grade fever. More serious side effects include vomiting, a stiff neck and seizures, to name a few. In addition, some people may find out they are allergic to the yellow fever immunization, developing hives, facial swelling and difficulty breathing. Despite the possible negative effects, many medical professionals say the risks associated with yellow fever itself are more serious than the rare side effects of the vaccine.
Most people who develop yellow fever vaccine side effects experience flu symptoms. These usually include a headache, chills and muscle aches. A low-grade fever and a cough may also result from vaccination for the yellow fever virus. Irritation near the injection site may occur, as well, presenting as redness, swelling and pain in the area. These yellow fever vaccine side effects should be mentioned to a doctor but are not usually considered serious and should disappear on their own.
Other yellow fever vaccine side effects need immediate medical attention, because they do not tend to go away on their on own. For instance, some people experience stiffness in the back or neck, as well as vomiting and the inability to balance. The senses may be in disarray, affecting vision and making the eyes sensitive to light, as well as making it difficult to speak. These results may lead to even more serious issues, such as seizures. Other side effects impact the mind more than the body, because memory loss, changes in behavior and confusion can occur just after a yellow fever immunization.
Those who are allergic to the vaccine may notice side effects that differ from those experienced by other people. One of the most noticeable signs of allergy is swelling of facial features, such as the lips and tongue. In some cases, the throat may also swell, making it difficult to breathe after the vaccine. While one of the most common yellow fever vaccine side effects is redness at the injection site, those allergic to the vaccine tend to get hives over most of their body, not just the area where the vaccine was injected. These symptoms of allergic reaction warrant immediate medical attention, especially when it is difficult to breathe.
When my aunt went to Africa in the early 70s, she had to have a yellow fever vaccine. She said it was awful. She felt terrible for a week. She said she was glad she had it about three months before she left, and didn't have to fly feeling like she did. She had the whole flu symptom thing, along with a stiff neck.
I think the doctor gave her acetaminophen and aspirin and told her to stay hydrated.