CDC Working to Maintain Yellow Fever Vaccine Supply

The virus is still found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa and remains a very rare cause of illness in U.S. travelers, according to CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided on a plan to ensure a continuous yellow fever vaccine supply in the United States as it anticipates the end of the U.S.-licensed YF-VAX® yellow fever vaccine in mid-2017. CDC outlined it in the issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published on April 28.

In 2016, a manufacturing issue at Sanofi Pasteur limited the production of YF-VAX, and no yellow fever vaccine is expected to be available by the middle of 2017. YF-VAX is the only yellow fever vaccine licensed for use in the United States and is distributed to approximately 4,000 clinic sites.

Perhaps not thought of as a threat by most Americans who learned the disease's name in history classes, yellow fever was a scourge until doctors found it was caused by the bites of infected mosquitoes and vaccines were developed during the 1930s. The virus is still found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa and remains a very rare cause of illness in U.S. travelers, according to CDC. The illness ranges in severity from a self-limited febrile illness to severe liver disease with bleeding.

The MMWR article says in 2015, approximately 8 million U.S. residents traveled to 42 countries with endemic yellow fever virus transmission, and the reports of yellow fever in at least 10 unimmunized returning U.S. and European travelers were recorded during 1970-2013. Yellow fever virus was exported from Angola during the 2016 outbreak to three countries, and a current outbreak in Brazil has resulted in 681 confirmed cases from December 2016 through April 25, 2017.

The agency says it collaborated with Sanofi Pasteur on a plan to distribute limited quantities of Stamaril yellow fever vaccine to prevent people from becoming infected by the virus until production of YF-VAX resumes at a new facility in 2018. Stamaril is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur in France and distributed in more than 70 countries; in October 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized an Expanded Access Investigational New Drug protocol that allows for the distribution of Stamaril to designated U.S. clinic sites until YF-VAX production resumes.

For yellow fever vaccine shortage and drug information, visit Sanofi Pasteur at http://www.sanofipasteur.us/vaccines/yellowfevervaccine.

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