The national supply of yellow fever vaccine, YF Vax, has run out and it is estimated to be a year before the supply returns. The manufacturer is working with the FDA to provide a European version of the vaccine, Stamaril, to the U.S. but it will be listed as an experimental drug as it doesn’t have FDA approval in the U.S.
Stamaril has been used for over 40 years in Europe and is approved by the EMA, their equivalent of our FDA. Although the name of the FDA program is "investigational new drug," Stamaril is not an investigational or experimental vaccine. It has been used extensively in over 70 European and other countries for decades but is not licensed in the United States.
There are 4,000 certified yellow fever vaccine providers in the U.S. but only about 250 of them will be allowed to administer Stamaril. In NH, the only clinic to be included in this program is the Travel Clinic at Dartmouth Hitchcock in Lebanon, NH.
There is another barrier to receiving this vaccine and that is that the FDA is requiring that it only be administered no more than 30 days before travel but must be given at least 10 days before travel. That gives the traveler a 20-day window in which to get an appointment.
The travel clinics who will administer Stamaril are mandated to go through a lengthy informed consent form and children 7-18 years of age, who receive the vaccine, must sign their own consent forms. Will getting an appointment for a yellow fever vaccine be easy? No. And it will cost more.
Countries and areas at risk of yellow fever.
So, here’s what we are recommending. Even though Travel Health of New Hampshire can’t give you Stamaril, we can provide your pre travel visit- all your other immunizations, information about insect protections and malaria pills prescriptions, and advice about travel safety and food and water precautions without time constraints. We can give you or fax a copy of your visit to a clinic that will give you Stamaril and then you would just get your vaccine from them.
Or, you can have the complete visit done at the clinic that provides Stamaril for you. Be aware that it will be easier to get an appointment for a vaccine only as opposed to a full pretravel visit within that 20-day window constraint.
What else can you do? Well, the shortage is also in Canada so that going to Canada won’t help but if you travel often and know you will need a yellow fever vaccine within the next year, consider getting a yellow fever vaccine in another country. You can find a list of yellow fever providers in other countries here. Let’s say you are going to London for a week but in 6 months will be doing a semester abroad in Ghana, where yellow fever vaccine is mandatory for entry. Go to a travel clinic in London and get your vaccine there.
We will try to work with you to ensure that all travelers are well prepared for safe travel while this vaccine crisis exists. Call us at 603-524-1103.