Today I went to Passport Health to get my yellow fever vaccine (YF-VAX) that is required to enter Uganda.  

The vaccine is actually out of stock due to a change in facility (and delays in the construction, of course), but I was able to get the Stamaril vaccine which helps protect against yellow fever.  This particular vaccine is not approved for sale by the US Food and Drug Administration, but they’re allowing its use for now.  Over 100 countries outside of the US have used it for thirty years, so there is nothing to worry about.  

Yellow fever is a disease that comes from a virus that female mosquitos carry. This virus is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa (the areas below the Sahara Desert) and tropical areas of South America.   You may have heard of the book, Fever 1793, which is about the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia.  But that was a very long time ago, and many efforts are taken to control the spread of mosquitoes.  The virus is not common in the United States and contracting the disease can be prevented by the vaccine that Max Theiler developed in 1936.


While at Passport Health, Mary went over many different vaccines that are recommended but not required, such as Hepatitis, meningitis, pneumonia, cholera, chicken pox, influenza, tetanus, and measles.  Several of these vaccines are required as children, and since I had them I am covered.  I recently had a flu and tetanus shot as well.  I decided to not take the others since I am not going to be working with sick people in a hospital, and I plan to be safe when it comes to hygiene, food, and drink.

Mary also went over Malaria with me, which is the one question I had for her. Malaria is also a mosquito-transmitted disease.   She provided a prescription for the pills that serve as part of the prevention.  I also need to take plenty of bug spray with me, and I’m probably going to treat my clothing with permethrin before I pack. I am a mosquito magnet, meaning I will be the only one bothered and bitten while everyone else is just fine. I’m also extra sensitive to mosquito bites, or all bug bites, and they swell up and itch more than an average person.

I also found out something new about mosquitoes while at the clinic. There are mosquitoes that are common during the day and different mosquitoes at night.  I thought they were all the same annoying insect!

UPDATE 12/23/18:

After two days, I have not experienced any side-affects from the vaccine other than itching at the injection site.