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The Yellow Fever Vaccine: More Questions Than Answers

In January, 2019, news outlets reported the death of a leading cancer researcher in the UK, who suffered total organ failure not long after receiving a yellow fever (YF) vaccine. Both the UK and the U.S. recommend YF vaccination for anyone nine months of age or older who is planning to travel to a yellow-fever-endemic country in sub-Saharan Africa or South America.  Public health authorities admit that the YF vaccine—an attenuated live-virus vaccine—can, in “rare” cases, “have serious and sometimes fatal side effects” and that the risks are about four times higher in individuals age 60 or older, but many older travelers continue to be given the vaccine anyway. In the fatal January incident, the deceased scientist was 67 years old; after his death, the medical research institution that employed him instructed The Guardian to amend its news account to say that the death occurred “following,” rather than “as a result of,” yellow fever vaccination.  Read more...

 

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