by Loren G. Edelstein | March 22, 2018
With concern rising over a widespread outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil, government officials announced plans Tuesday for a nationwide vaccination campaign to immunize more than 77.5 million people who have not yet been inoculated for the disease, according to the Associated Press and other published reports. The aim is to vaccinate the entire country against the mosquito-borne virus by April 2019.
A large swath of the country has been grappling with the disease since early this year. About 300 people have died from the virus since this past January, including several tourists. While the government is not calling the situation a health emergency, Brazil is experiencing the worst outbreak of yellow fever in decades.
"We hope to face the new yellow-fever cycle that will occur next summer with the population totally immunized," health minister Ricardo Barros told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday. Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bahia will be the first states to offer vaccination to all of their municipalities. Approximately 40.9 million people have yet to be vaccinated in those states, officials estimate.
Travelers who have not been vaccinated for yellow fever recently should avoid many areas of Brazil, according to a warning updated on March 15 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises "enhanced precautions."
Visitors can protect themselves by getting the yellow-fever vaccine at least 10 days before travel and by preventing mosquito bites. However, the vaccine currently is available at only a limited number of clinics in the United States. Travelers should contact a yellow-fever vaccine provider well in advance of travel. The CDC offers a search tool for those seeking vaccine providers.