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article imageCDC working to keep yellow fever vaccine from running out

By Karen Graham     Apr 29, 2017 in Health
It has been a year since the Zika outbreak hit the U.S. and now, health officials are worried about fighting another mosquito-borne virus - Yellow fever. And the U.S. supply of vaccines is due to run out by mid-summer.
If you are planning a trip abroad to a country where yellow fever is endemic this summer, then checking with your doctor or the county health department now may be a good idea. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that by July, a yellow fever vaccine will be hard to find.
"Take heed of our warning: Plan ahead," says CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner, according to "It may be difficult to get this vaccine. And if you can't get it, then you should postpone your trip."
The Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Current vaccine shortage and change over to temporary vaccine
According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, issued on Friday, only one yellow fever vaccine (YF-VAX) is currently licensed for use in the United States. Occasionally, temporary yellow fever vaccine shortages have occurred in the U.S. as a result of manufacturing problems, including a manufacturing complication in 2016 that resulted in the loss of a large number of U.S.-licensed yellow fever vaccine doses.
What it comes down to is the issue of using up the present vaccine, made by Sanofi Pasteur, and replenishing vaccine supplies with a newer yellow fever vaccine currently being used in Europe, called Stamaril. Stamaril is currently approved for use in 70 countries but not in the U.S.
Sanofi Pasteur and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently working on a plan to make the new vaccine available in this country. When the vaccine is approved, reports ABC News, it will only be available at 252 sites in the U.S. This is a huge reduction from the over 4,000 sites that normally provide the vaccine.
US Healthworks
This will be a temporary solution until Sanofi Pasteur is moved into its new facilities in 2018 and can resume making the YF-VAX vaccine used in the U.S. "We're going from the yellow fever vaccine being available in 4,000 clinics across the country to only 250 clinics," Skinner said.
Yellow Fever surging around the world
Yellow fever globally has been at crisis levels since last year. By June 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) had to adopt what is called "fractional dosing" of the available yellow fever vaccines they had remaining, just to conserve the vaccine and to allow for stocks to be built back up. By cutting the standard dose by 80 percent, immunity lasts for 12 months instead of 10 years.
Now, the world is facing a yellow fever outbreak in Brazil, the largest in the country's history. In an article published on April 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and colleague Dr. Catharine Paules said that a large outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil must be closely monitored, reports the Sioux City Journal.
Persian Gulf-Jan. 5  2009
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Tina Close administers a yellow fever shot to ...
Persian Gulf-Jan. 5, 2009 Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Tina Close administers a yellow fever shot to Engineman Fireman Sony Ngeburi aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7).
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Starkey
"Yellow fever has a relatively high death rate and is the most severe [insect-transmitted] virus ever to circulate in the Americas," Fauci and Paules wrote. The disease is transmitted by the Aedes and Haemagogus species of mosquitoes.
"Although it is highly unlikely that we will see yellow fever outbreaks in the continental United States . . . it is possible that travel-related cases of yellow fever could occur, with brief periods of local transmission in warmer regions such as the Gulf Coast states, where A. aegypti mosquitoes are prevalent," the team added.
Should yellow fever appear, it will be the fifth mosquito-borne virus to show up in the continental U.S. since the 1990s, following dengue, West Nile, chikungunya and the Zika virus.
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