Tag: duration of protection

Myths About the Yellow Fever Vaccine

Endemic yellow fever was eliminated in the United States in 1905, way before the first yellow fever vaccine was developed (1935) and licensed (1953).

How did that work?

Yellow fever is a now vaccine preventable disease that is spread by mosquito bites.

In the United States, it was actually eliminated by controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread the yellow fever virus before the vaccine was even developed. These control efforts were also done in Cuba, Panama, and Ecuador, etc., places where yellow fever was common and led to outbreaks in the United States.

Why Haven’t We Eradicated Yellow Fever?

So why is yellow fever still a problem if we can control the the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the yellow fever virus?

“Mosquitoes breed in tropical rainforests, humid, and semi-humid environments, as well as around bodies of still water in and close to human habitations in urban settings. Increased contact between humans and infected mosquitoes, particularly in urban areas where people have not been vaccinated for yellow fever, can create epidemics.”

Yellow fever: Questions and Answers

It’s because we can control the mosquitoes in urban areas, in and around cities. You can’t really control or eliminate mosquitoes in tropical rain forest regions, which is why it is difficult to eradicate yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, and other mosquito borne diseases.

But we have a vaccine, don’t we?

“Eradication of yellow fever is not feasible since we are unable to control the virus in the natural animal hosts.”

Yellow fever: Questions and Answers

Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones who can become infected with yellow fever. Monkeys get infected with the yellow fever virus in rain forests, infect Haemagogus and Sabethes mosquitoes, which bite people in those areas.

“Urban transmission of yellow fever virus occurs when the virus is spread from human to human by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.”

Yellow fever – Brazil

That likely means that yellow fever will never be completely eradicated, unlike small pox.

Yellow Fever Vaccines Myths

But just because yellow fever can’t be eradicated doesn’t mean that it can’t be eliminated.

A single dose of the yellow fever vaccine is safe and provides life-long protection for 99% of people.

“Vaccination is the most powerful known measure for yellow fever prevention: a single dose can provide life-long immunity at a cost of approximately US$1.”

WHO on Eliminating Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) Strategy: Meeting demand for yellow fever vaccines

And as cases of yellow fever increase in some countries, like Brazil, getting more people vaccinated is the only way to stop this deadly disease.

People line up to get a yellow fever vaccine near Kinshasa.
People line up to get a yellow fever vaccine near Kinshasa. Photo by WHO/E. Soteras Jalil

Tragically, anti-vaccination myths and misinformation may be keeping folks from getting vaccinated and protected. Propaganda and anti-vaccine scare videos have them thinking that the yellow fever vaccine is dangerous, part of a conspiracy to depopulate the world, or that it doesn’t work.

It is also important to know that:

  • When traveling to or from some countries, a yellow fever vaccine isn’t enough – you need an International Certificate of Vaccination proving that you were vaccinated.

    You should not skip getting the yellow fever vaccine if you are traveling to an area where yellow fever is endemic, including many parts of areas of Africa and South America.

  • While you are most at risk during the rainy season, especially during outbreaks, it is also possible to get yellow fever during the dry season.
  • Yellow fever is a serious, life-threatening disease.
  • There is no cure for yellow fever.
  • While serious side effects to the yellow fever vaccine have been reported, including anaphylaxis, yellow fever vaccine-associated neurologic disease (YEL-AND), and yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL-AVD), they are very rare.
  • The yellow fever vaccine is a live virus vaccine, but shedding is not an issue. Unless at a high risk of exposure, getting the yellow fever vaccine is usually not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding though.
  • It is not usually necessary to get a booster dose of the yellow fever vaccine.
  • Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have traveled from a country where there is still a risk of getting yellow fever, so that you don’t import yellow fever into their country.

As yellow fever cases are on the rise in Brazil, with an associated increase in travel associated cases, it is important that everyone understand that vaccines are safe and necessary.

What to Know About Yellow Fever Vaccine Myths

Yellow fever cases are increasing and so are anti-vaccine myths about the yellow fever vaccine, which are keeping some folks from getting vaccinated and protected, even as they are threatened by a potential outbreak.

More on Yellow Fever Vaccines Myths

Is the HPV Vaccine a Savior or the Most Dangerous Vaccine Ever Made?

I’m still surprised at the responses some parents have when I mention that it is time for their kids to get their HPV vaccine.

Despite what you might read on the Internet, the HPV vaccines are safe and necessary.
Despite what you might read on the Internet, the HPV vaccines are safe and necessary.

While most say things like, “good, I was wondering when they would start it,” a minority still use arguments that could come straight off of any anti-vaccine website or forum.

Is the HPV Vaccine Dangerous?

The HPV isn’t dangerous, but it is easy to see why some parents still think that it is.

How many myths about the HPV vaccine have you heard?

“I don’t like this vaccine… Heaven help us if we have a generation of kids who get a hepatitis B vaccine and a HPV vaccine and they think that now unprotected sex is okay…

I don’t think it is really clear that this vaccine is really as safe as they say it is and it is certainly not as dangerous as they say it is, but I recommend against it in my practice.”

Dr. Jay Gordon discussing the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show

You can rest assured that they aren’t true.

Deciding to Get an HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccines are well studied and in continuing studies have only been found to cause mild side effects, just like most other vaccines.

Still undecided?

“The manufacturers of Cervarix and Gardasil are following patients in Scandinavia for at least 15 years to verify that protection from both vaccines lasts at least that long.”

National Cancer Institute on HPV Vaccines

Parents who are still hesitant should know that:

  • Gardasil, the first HPV vaccine, was approved by the FDA in 2006. The first phase 1 and phase 2 trials began in 1997. It has been given to over 200,000,000 children, teens, and young adults for over 10 years now all over the world.
  • while fainting might occur after vaccination, it is also not uncommon after other vaccinations and medical procedures, especially in teens. It is not a specific issue caused by the HPV vaccine or any vaccine, for that matter.
  • the HPV vaccine does not cause primary ovarian failure, venous blood clots, behavior problems, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, or any of the other serious side effects you read on the Internet
  • while the HPV vaccine won’t protect against all forms of HPV, it protects against the forms that are most likely to cause cervical cancer. Just two types of HPV, types 16 and 18, cause 70% of cervical cancers, and another two types, types 6 and 11, cause 90% of genital warts. All are included in the Gardasil vaccine and Cervarix includes the types most likely to cause cervical cancer.
  • HPV is not rare – in fact, it is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. While many infections do go away on their own, spontaneously, others linger and can cause cervical cancer.
  • HPV doesn’t just cause cervical cancer though, it can also cause vaginal, vulvar, penile, and anal, and oropharyngeal cancer, and genital warts
  • the HPV vaccines seem to provide long lasting protection, although, as with any new vaccine, we won’t know just how long the true duration of protection is until the vaccines have been out even longer. So far, Gardasil and Cervarix are providing protection that lasts at least 8 and 9 years.
  • boys need the HPV vaccine too, as there are around 11,000 cases of HPV induced cancer in men each year, including anal cancer and cancers of the mouth/throat and penis.
  • you want your child to get the HPV vaccine before they are having sex, to prevent them from ever getting infected with HPV, which is why it is routinely recommended when kids are 11 to 12 years old. That they are not sexually active yet is the whole point! As with other vaccines, if you continue to wait, you might eventually wait too long, although you can still get the vaccine if they are already sexually active, even if they are already infected with HPV, as it might protect them against another strain that they don’t have yet.
  • getting the HPV vaccine does not make it more likely that a teen will have sex
  • using condoms will not prevent all HPV infections. HPV can also spread through nonpenetrative sexual contact.
  • cervical cancer is serious, with about 4,200 women dying of cervical cancer each year, even in this age of routine pap tests
  • although you may hear that the HPV vaccine has been banned in some places, it is still offered in Japan, Utah, and other places where they talk about these bans, and since 2014, at least 64 countries have added the HPV vaccine to their immunization schedule

Get educated about vaccines and get your kids their HPV vaccine series. Remember that if you start the series before your kids are 15 years old, they only need two doses of the vaccine. After 15 years, they need 3 doses.

What To Know About Deciding to Get an HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccines are safe, they work, and are necessary, which are beliefs shared by experts and most parents who decide to get their kids vaccinated and protected against HPV.

More Information on Deciding to Get an HPV Vaccine