Yellow fever

This section provides downloadable documents on the Policy for the Authorisation of Yellow Fever Vaccinators and Vaccination Centres, forms to apply for or renew authorisation as a yellow fever vaccinator or vaccination centre, and a list of currently authorised Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in New Zealand.

About yellow fever

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. It is endemic to 44 countries in tropical areas of Africa and the Americas. Infection with the yellow fever virus causes varying degrees of disease, from mild symptoms to severe illness with bleeding and jaundice.

There are an estimated 200,000 cases of yellow fever worldwide each year. About 15% of people infected with yellow fever progress to a severe form of the illness, and up to half of those will die, as there is no cure for yellow fever.

Travellers to areas considered “at risk” can help limit the spread of the disease to vulnerable local populations by ensuring they are vaccinated where recommended. See the World Health Organization Yellow Fever Fact Sheet for more information. 

Yellow fever vaccine

Vaccination is the most important and effective measure against yellow fever. The yellow fever vaccine provides effective immunity within 30 days for 99% of people vaccinated and over 600 million doses have been dispensed worldwide since vaccination began in the 1930s.

A single dose confers sustained immunity and life-long protection. Side-effects are rare and serious adverse events are rarely reported. The risk is higher for people over 60 years of age and anyone with severe immunodeficiency due to symptomatic HIV/AIDS or other causes, or who have a thymus disorder.

People who are usually excluded from vaccination include:

  • infants aged less than 9 months
  • pregnant and/or breastfeeding women
  • people with severe allergies to egg protein; and
  • people with severe immunodeficiency due to symptomatic HIV/AIDS or other causes, or who have a thymus disorder.

In New Zealand, yellow fever vaccine is only available from specifically-authorised yellow fever vaccination centres (see the current list of Authorised Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres, below).

Vaccination and certification requirements when travelling

Countries are able to require proof of vaccination against yellow fever as a condition of entry, at their discretion. The list of countries that do require vaccination changes on a regular basis and you are advised to seek up to date advice from a travel medicine centre and/or the relevant country embassy(s) well before you travel. 

New Zealand does not currently require proof of vaccination against yellow fever if you are travelling back from an at-risk area, however Australia and other countries commonly visited by New Zealanders may do, so be sure to check the requirements for all countries on your planned itinerary.

A single yellow fever vaccination (regardless of how long ago it was administered) is now considered to confer lifetime immunity starting from 10 days after administration – previously it was considered effective for up to 10 years. The standard ‘International Health Regulation Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis’ certificate you receive recording the vaccination is therefore now valid for life. 

Authorisation of Yellow Fever Vaccinators and Vaccination Centres

Update on renewal of yellow fever authorisations - December 2020

The Ministry is aware of the need to provide flexibility in renewing yellow fever vaccinator authorisation, and provide clarity and support to all our vaccinators and centres in this difficult time.

Many of the usual conferences and other methods to undertake learning and development activities to meet continuing medical education (CME) and other requirements are unavailable and may continue to be for some time yet.

Medical Officers of Health, Public Health Units and the Ministry also face considerable workloads during this period in addition to carrying out the usual processing of applications.

Vaccinators

We are therefore extending all existing vaccinator authorisations for 18 months from their current date of expiry.

At the end of their new extended authorisation period, vaccinators wishing to renew will need to provide evidence of 15+ hours CME in general travel medicine, and 3+ hours yellow fever specific CME since last authorised (nurses 9+ hours/3+ hours since last authorised).  For details of acceptable CME, please see the current Policy for Authorisation of Yellow Fever Vaccinators and Vaccination Centres.

All YF vaccinators are only able to be fully authorised if they are operating from an authorised YF centre, and vice versa.  For those vaccinators whose centres are currently closed/not operating, these authorisations will be held in a suspended state until they reopen. Vaccinators must notify us if they will no longer be vaccinating, or wish to operate from another centre.  All vaccinators must continue to hold a current practising certificate.

Nurses who are YF-authorised vaccinators must maintain current authorised vaccinator status, and the YF authorisation of nurses without authorised vaccinator status will be suspended until authorised vaccinator status is regained.  The requirement to be currently employed in travel medicine will be based on the last centre they were employed at.

Vaccination centres

Centre authorisations will also be extended by 18 months, however centres are expected to work with their local Immunisation Coordinators to ensure Cold Chain Accreditation is continuously maintained.  The YF authorisation of a centre without CCA will still be suspended until CCA is regained.

If your centre is closed or not currently operating, your centre authorisation will be held as suspended until you notify us you are restarting operations.  We will also update the Ministry website to reflect those that are currently open.

Medical Officers of Health are still able to audit centres or vaccinators when appropriate to ensure maintenance of public safety, and any concerns should still be raised over this time.

Next steps

We will issue formal notices of your new expiry date(s) shortly.  If your centre is not currently operating please let us know, and for vaccinators and centre representatives, please provide alternative personal contact details (email, phone, mailing address) to [email protected] so we’re able to contact you directly.

The Ministry will ensure requirements for renewal going forward are confirmed and communicated before October 2021. 

Authorisation Policy

The policy below took effect from 15 August 2017 for both new and renewed authorisations.

Applications for Authorisation as a Yellow Fever Vaccinator or Vaccination Centre

To apply for or renew yellow fever authorisation, please print and send the completed forms, along with all supporting documentation (as per the included checklist) to your local Medical Officer of Health. 

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