What is a Yellow Fever Certificate?

Felicia Dye

Yellow fever is a virus that is found mostly in parts of South America and Africa. To help protect travelers and to help prevent the spread of the virus among populations where it is not common, individuals are often required to be vaccinated. A yellow fever certificate is a document that shows that a person has indeed received the required vaccination.

Yellow fever is typically spread by mosquitoes.
Yellow fever is typically spread by mosquitoes.

The yellow fever virus can be transferred from monkeys to humans by way of mosquitoes. A major problem with the yellow fever virus, however, is that it can also be transmitted from one human to another. This means that if an individual travels and becomes infected, upon returning to his native land, he can infect numerous people, who may in turn infect many other individuals. Since a mosquito can acquire the virus from a human, further threats are posed by the infection of one person.

Yellow fever is generally found in parts of Africa such as Nigeria, Angola, and Ethiopia. It is also found in South American countries such as Panama, Brazil, and Paraguay. There are a numerous factors that should be considered when assessing a person’s risk of contracting this virus. One of them includes the areas in which a person travels. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is some risk of acquiring the virus in densely populated urban areas in Africa, but the risk of urban infection in South America is on a large scale.

There is not a medication that can be taken prior to travel to help provide protection against yellow fever. This is why yellow fever vaccinations are often required for individuals who will travel in countries where they may be at risk. When this is the case, proof that the vaccination has been received is usually an entry requirement. The yellow fever certificate is the document that is used to show that a person has indeed been vaccinated.

This document is usually yellow. It may folded in half, similar to a greeting card, or it may be folded into three parts. The name of the possessor is likely to be displayed on the front. Inside, the type of vaccination that an individual received to prevent against yellow fever may be listed along with the place and date that it was administered. There is often space available for details of multiple vaccinations.

Some countries, such as Afghanistan, China, and Haiti, require a yellow fever certificate from people who are traveling from countries where there is a risk of transmission of this virus. This may apply even to individuals who are not citizens of those countries. In some places, when a person should have a yellow fever certificate but does not, she may be denied entry outright into a country. In other cases, she may be given the option to be vaccinated by a medical professional at the airport. If she chooses to do so, she will be provided with a yellow fever certificate afterward.

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