MIAMI: The United States will run out of vaccine for yellow fever by mid-2017, and travelers may find it hard to get vaccinated until next year, US health officials said Friday.
The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur makes the vaccine known as YF-VAX, which will be unavailable from mid-2017 to mid-2018 due to a production problem.
"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 mid-2017," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement.
However, the company will make a limited amount of an experimental vaccine, known as Stamaril, available at 250 sites in the United States, said the CDC.
Presently, there are 4,000 clinics in the United States that stock YF-VAX, the only yellow fever vaccine licensed for use in the United States.
The backup vaccine, Stamaril, is "registered and distributed in over 70 countries" but "is considered investigational in the US," said the CDC.
"CDC and Sanofi Pasteur collaborated 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."
Yellow fever is a potentially serious disease, that can cause jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes and stomach.
A small fraction of those infected become seriously ill. If patients enter this more toxic phase of the disease they face a 50 percent risk of death within seven to 10 days.
Yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes, and is common in 34 nations in Africa and 13 in Central and South America.
The 250 US clinics that will stock the experimental vaccine were chosen because they "administered a high volume of yellow fever vaccine to international travelers in 2016 or can provide coverage to an area of geographic need," said the CDC.
Once YF-VAX runs out, the CDC said it will publish on its website a list of clinics where Stamaril can be found.