So you’ve booked and paid for your tickets, and already you can picture yourself sat on deck sipping a refreshing Gin and Tonic. A few weeks prior to travel you receive your tickets in the post and inside it states – A YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CERTIFICATE REQUIRED, WITHOUT THIS YOU ARE UNABLE TO BOARD THE BOAT (or something to that effect). Whether or not you receive this advice, if you are planning to Cruise around any countries in Central /South America / Carribean or Africa, we advise that you speak to a travel health specialist (such as Nomad) as soon as possible.
When embarking on a cruise, the chances of you catching a disease that we can vaccinate against is pretty low. So why do you need a Yellow Fever certificate to board the boat?
Some countries can occasionally have outbreaks of Yellow Fever. It is a disease spread by day biting mosquitoes and if caught cannot be directly treated, you treat the symptoms only. It starts with flu-like symptoms and can develop into internal bleeding and other horrible symptoms and is often fatal.
Some countries will ask as a condition of entry for proof of vaccination against Yellow Fever – if you haven’t got a certificate you can’t come in.
As it is such a horrible disease that can spread rapidly in affected countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have set guidelines to limit the spread and this is where the ‘Yellow Fever’ certificate comes in. Some countries will ask as a condition of entry for proof of vaccination against Yellow Fever – if you haven’t got a certificate you can’t come in. For guidance on the requirements of countries you are visiting, you can use our Vaccinations Guide.
The WHO have issued maps that clearly show areas that are affected by Yellow Fever, and often it won’t be the whole country affected. After a look at your itinary it may even turn out that you won’t be visiting an affected area at all but the country still asks for a certificate. So what do you do?
The vaccination itself can have some nasty side effects and the chance of these side effects happening seem to increase as you get older. Therefore you’ll find Nurses / Doctors are reluctant to vaccinate you unless you really are at risk of catching the disease. Sometimes we can offer you an exemption certificate instead of giving you the vaccine. If the nurse decides that your risks of catching yellow fever really are nil or even that having the vaccine puts you at higher risk of side effects than actually catching the disease, then we can offer an exemption certificate.
If you don’t take a certificate (of either form) with you, you may find that you won’t be able to leave the boat as some countries won’t let you in! This could be really disappointing if you’d been looking forward to certain day trips. I’ve heard many stories of people turning up at Southampton to board their boat, they didn’t have their certificate and were refused embarkation! This has led to many calls to our local clinic begging to be seen and get vaccinated straight away so they can go on their holiday. In short – make sure you get some advice before you set sail!