Background: Yellow fever (YF) vaccines have been available since the 1930s and are generally considered safe and effective. However, rare reports of serious adverse events (SAE) following vaccination have prompted the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices to periodically expand the list of conditions considered contraindications and precautions to vaccination.
Methods: We describe adverse events following YF vaccination reported to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from 2007 through 2013 and calculate age- and sex-specific reporting rates of all SAE, anaphylaxis, YF vaccine-associated neurologic disease (YEL-AND) and YF vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL-AVD).
Results: There were 938 adverse events following YF vaccination reported to VAERS from 2007 through 2013. Of these, 84 (9%) were classified as SAEs for a rate of 3.8 per 100 000 doses distributed. Reporting rates of SAEs increased with increasing age with a rate of 6.5 per 100 000 in persons aged 60–69 years and 10.3 for ≥70 years. The reporting rate for anaphylaxis was 1.3 per 100 000 doses distributed and was highest in persons ≤18 years (2.7 per 100 000). Reporting rates of YEL-AND and YEL-AVD were 0.8 and 0.3 per 100 000 doses distributed, respectively; both rates increased with increasing age.
Conclusions: These findings reinforce the generally acceptable safety profile of YF vaccine, but highlight the importance of continued physician and traveller education regarding the risks and benefits of YF vaccination, particularly for older travellers.