Vaccine Shortage Delays World Cup Travel

June 21, 2010 Anonymous

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito flies off after feeding. This day-biting mosquito is the vector for yellow fever. CDC/ James Gathany, 2006.International Health Regulations allow countries at risk for yellow fever transmission to request certificates of vaccination from foreign travelers. If a visitor is coming from a country considered “high risk” for the disease, they must present a yellow fever certificate approved by the World Health Organization–sometimes at the port of entry, and sometimes before they can even obtain a travel visa.

These policies have no doubt prevented yellow fever transmission, but vaccine shortages in Uganda combined with yellow fever health regulations have led to headaches for some World Cup fans. Uganda’s South African mission, where visas are issued for Ugandans traveling to the World Cup, can’t issue those visas without yellow fever certificates–and many would-be travelers don’t have the certificates, because they haven’t been able to get the vaccine.

CNN’s Samson Ntale reported on June 17 that the large number of travelers headed for South Africa during the World Cup exacerbated the Ugandan vaccine shortage. Ntale reported that more yellow fever vaccine has been ordered, but that in the meantime, many Ugandans have been first traveling to other countries to get their vaccinations and certificates, including Kenya and Tanzania.

Separately, United Nations agencies reported that a shortage in funding may threaten yellow fever vaccination campaigns in Nigeria and Ghana. According to the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision, West Africa has seen more than 61 million immunizations against yellow fever since 2007. Additional funds are needed, however, to maintain global vaccine stockpiles for responses to outbreaks, and to protect 120 million people in Nigeria and Ghana who remain at risk for yellow fever.

The World Health Organization is the Secretariat for the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision. The group’s other members are UNICEF, Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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