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CDC Alerts: US Yellow Fever Vaccine Will Run Short This Summer

by Staff Contributor on May 2, 2017

According to a statement released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this past Friday, American supplies of yellow fever vaccines are projected to run out this summer. Along with this announcement, the CDC also divulged a report that included a proposal to guarantee uninterrupted access.

Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral hemorrhagic disease spread by infected mosquitos. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease is prevalent in tropical regions of about 47 nations throughout Africa and Central and South America.

There will be an exhaustion of the supply of the only US-licensed yellow fever vaccine accessible to US travelers by mid-2017, reports the CDC in their latest statement. This is mainly because of Sanofi Pasteur, which produces the YF-Vax vaccine, employed constrained ordering after manufacturing problems affected supplies. However, the company expects the vaccine to be available once again by the middle of 2018.

This predicted shortage is impacting Americans who are in the midst of organizing trips to endemic areas, according to CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

He believes it is “really, really important” to get the vaccine if your doctor recommends it. This is particularly vital to keep in mind when considering that there are 18 nations around the world that oblige vaccination prior to allowing a traveler to enter.

“If you are recommended to get it and for some reason are unable to get [it], then you should strongly consider not going,” Skinner stressed.

Symptoms of yellow fever typically commence about three to six days after a bite from an infected mosquito and normally last for three or four days. The symptoms most commonly associated with the disease include, but are not limited to: fever, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, headache, and fatigue. A significantly small proportion of the infected patients go on to develop severe symptoms, but almost half of these die within ten days of such.

Sanofi Pasteur plans to work with the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration to facilitate the importation of an alternative yellow fever vaccine, which is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur France.

The alternative vaccine, referred to as Stamaril, has a safety and efficacy profile that is equal to the US-licensed vaccine. It is distributed within over 70 countries, so it is widely trusted. Sanofi Pasteur predicts that production of YF-Vax will recommence at a new facility in 2018.

The company has been working in close contact with the US military, which has been restraining its own use of vaccines for those traveling within the upcoming thirty days to locations where inoculation is recommended or required, revealed Cristine Schroeder, who is a spokeswoman for Sanofi Pasteur.

“In the interest of national security, we have engaged them in planning for future requirements, which will support continued force readiness until such time as product from the new facility is available,” Schroeder affirmed.

The alternative vaccine will be available at a particular number of sites, which will be determined based on 2016 administration numbers or an area’s displayed need the inoculator. Sanofi Pasteur designated roughly 250 clinics within the US— considerably lower than the nearly 4,000 that normally distribute YF-Vax—to distribute Stamaril at this time.

Although the international stockpile customarily consists of six million doses of the yellow fever vaccine, the supply of such has greatly dwindled as a result of recent outbreaks, according to the WHO.

The gravest outbreak of yellow fever within the past three decades happened in Angola, beginning in December 2015. Sickness started out in the nation’s capital city of Luanda and quickly spread to provinces. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, an outbreak of yellow fever was professed in April of 2016—being that some of the cases involved in the Congolese epidemic were imported from Angola.

As part of a reaction to the outbreak, the health ministries in Angola and Congo and the WHO collaborated with dozens of partners around the world—such as Médecins sans Frontières, the International Federation of the Red Cross and UNICEF—in the effort to implement an emergency vaccination campaign.

Following the crisis that occurred in Congo, six additional countries, Brazil, Chad, Colombia, Ghana, Peru and Uganda, reported either yellow fever outbreaks or sporadic cases that were allegedly not connected to the Angolan outbreak. As of April 3rd, yellow fever transmission is still actively spreading in the direction of the Atlantic coast of Brazil in areas that had not been considered to be at risk before, according to the WHO.

The yellow fever vaccine was first developed in the 1930’s by Max Theiler, a feat which earned him a Nobel Prize for his work in doing so. A standard dose of vaccine provides the patient with lifetime safeguard from this disease. The vaccine has actively been in use since 1937, and over 650 million doses have been distributed over the course of the past 75 years.

Featured Image via Wikimedia.

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Staff Contributor
Born and raised New Yorker with foreign parents; aftermaths include: having the tendency to switch languages mid-sentence, an endless stock of funny stories (normally founded on cultural/linguistic misunderstanding), a love of travel and reading, an excessive amount of curiosity (not nosy, just intrigued!), a sincere appreciation for food and coffee, and the ability to react to just about any situation with an infectious bout of laughter.
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