Yellow fever vaccine

Date: December 2023, Version 4.0

Quick read

Yellow fever vaccination is only recommended in pregnancy if the woman is at risk of catching yellow fever through travel to a high-risk area or through exposure to infected tissue at work.

What is it? 

The yellow fever vaccine stimulates the body to produce antibodies that fight yellow fever which is a virus carried by mosquitoes. The vaccine contains live yellow fever virus which has been treated to ensure that it cannot cause illness.

Yellow fever vaccination is generally required before travel to an area where yellow fever is present and for people who may be exposed at work (for example, some laboratory workers handling infected tissue). For most people, a single dose of yellow fever vaccine means that they will be immune from the disease for life.


What are the benefits of having a yellow fever vaccination in pregnancy?

Yellow fever can cause life-threatening illness. Vaccination can prevent yellow fever and its complications.


Are there any risks of having a yellow fever vaccination during pregnancy?

Studies of pregnant women who have received yellow fever vaccination do not raise concern of harmful effects on the baby.

Live vaccines, including the yellow fever vaccine, are not generally recommended in pregnancy. However, vaccination against yellow fever may be offered to pregnant women at risk of catching the illness because it can be life-threatening, and the benefits of vaccination therefore outweigh any risk.


Are there any alternatives to having a yellow fever vaccine?

No. If a pregnant woman is at risk of catching yellow fever, vaccination is the best way to prevent infection. 

Women receiving yellow fever vaccination because of travel will also need to ensure they take steps to prevent mosquito bites. For more information please see the bump leaflet on insect repellents

No treatment

What if I prefer not to receive a yellow fever vaccination during pregnancy?

The yellow fever vaccine will only be offered during pregnancy if a woman is at risk of catching the illness. Vaccination is not necessary if the woman can avoid travel to high-risk areas or the handling of infected tissue during pregnancy. A single dose of yellow fever vaccine gives most people life-long immunity. Therefore, women who have received a yellow vaccination prior to pregnancy are unlikely require re-vaccination.

Will my baby need extra monitoring? 

All pregnant women in the UK should be offered a detailed anomaly scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. No extra monitoring is required following yellow fever vaccination in pregnancy. 

Are there any risks to my baby if the father received the yellow fever vaccine? 

We would not expect any increased risk to the baby if the father has had a yellow fever vaccination.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.