Daniel Lucey, MD: Why There's a Yellow Fever Vaccine Shortage

OCTOBER 11, 2017
Jenna Payesko


Daniel Lucey, MD, Georgetown University Medical Center: In the US, there is a shortage right now of yellow fever vaccine. It's unrelated to the international shortage that occurred in 2016. And it's because there's only 1 manufacturer of yellow fever vaccine in the US and their manufacturing facility is in 1 location only in Pennsylvania and because of some unforeseen difficulties and moving the vaccine production location to a new site — this was a vaccine that would normally be available and would be adequate for the US — we're lost and there's no yellow fever vaccine that is licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, and so the Food and Drug Administration, the US Centers for Disease Control, CDC, and the manufacturer of yellow fever vaccine worked a solution, a temporary solution, and they, we, imported a yellow fever vaccine made by the same company that makes the one in the US, but they make this slightly different one in Europe, and so we've imported some doses of their other yellow fever vaccine in the US but it's not FDA licensed, even though it's made by the same company and it's nearly identical. And so what's happened is that the yellow fever vaccine is still available, and will be until the shortage is over next summer, mid-2018 but many fewer doses are available and many fewer vaccination clinics are able to give this yellow fever vaccine, now until mid-2018. So for example, before the shortage the US, there were about 4,000 clinics in the 50 states and in DC and Puerto Rico and Guam and Virgin Islands that could give yellow fever vaccine, about 4,000. As of this spring into summer there are only 250 vaccine clinic sites that could give this yellow fever vaccine that it's not licensed by the Food and Drug Administration but it's available under a special protocol called an Investigational New Drug or IND. So the good news is there still is yellow fever vaccine but for our patients they may have to travel further in order to get it, depending on where they live and where the clinics are, the 250 clinics spread around 50 states and in Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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