Yellow fever is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The severity of the virus ranges from asymptomatic to fatal — in most cases, symptoms include flu-like fevers, nausea, and pain, typically subsiding in a few days. Some patients, however, move into a toxic phase. This can lead to serious symptoms such as liver damage and jaundice, the results of which can prove fatal.
Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements for Peru
Some countries, such as Ecuador and Paraguay, require travelers to show a yellow fever certificate if arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission (such as Peru). If you arrive in such a country without a valid yellow fever certificate, you may be required to receive the vaccine on entry. In extreme cases, you may be placed in quarantine for up to six days.
The risk of yellow fever transmission in Peru varies from one region to another, with Peru’s three geographic regions playing a significant role.
The risk is greatest in the jungle regions to the east of the Andes (vaccination recommended). The risk is low in the Andean highlands (above 7,550 feet, or 2,300 meters) and along the entire coastal strip to the west of the Andes (vaccination generally not recommended).
If your travel plans are limited to Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, you do not need a yellow fever vaccination.
Yellow Fever Vaccine Safety
According to the World Health Organization, vaccination is the most important preventive measure against yellow fever: “The vaccine is safe, affordable and highly effective, and appears to provide protection for 30–35 years or more.”
Common adverse reactions to the yellow fever vaccine include mild fevers, headaches and other flu-like symptoms. Severe adverse reactions are rare.
Tell your doctor about any allergies you may have before receiving the vaccine. People with severe allergies to various components of the vaccine, including eggs, chicken proteins, and gelatin, should not receive the injection. According to the CDC, about one person in 55,000 experiences a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine component.
Where to Get the Yellow Fever Vaccination
The yellow fever vaccine is only available at designated vaccination centers. Many local clinics are authorized to administer the vaccine, so you shouldn’t need to travel too far for the injection. There are various clinic searches available online, including:
Once you have received the vaccine (a single injection), you will be given an “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis,” also known as a yellow card. The certificate is valid 10 days after vaccination and remains valid for 10 years.
It’s a good idea to receive the vaccine before you go to Peru, but you can also have it done in Peru. Various clinics throughout the country offer the vaccine -- there is also a clinic in Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport (Clínica de Sanidad Aérea, in national arrivals). Before you receive the injection, confirm that you will receive a stamped and signed yellow fever certificate (valid for international travel).