Review of data and knowledge gaps regarding yellow fever vaccine-induced immunity and duration of protection

J. Erin Staples, Alan D.T. Barrett, Annelies Wilder-Smith, Joachim Hombach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Yellow fever (YF) virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus found in Sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. The virus causes YF, a viral hemorrhagic fever, which can be prevented by a live-attenuated vaccine, strain 17D. Despite the vaccine being very successful at decreasing disease risk, YF is considered a re-emerging disease due to the increased numbers of cases in the last 30 years. Until 2014, the vaccine was recommended to be administered with boosters every 10 years, but in 2014 the World Health Organization recommended removal of booster doses for all except special populations. This recommendation has been questioned and there have been reports of waning antibody titers in adults over time and more recently in pediatric populations. Clearly, the potential of waning antibody titers is a very important issue that needs to be carefully evaluated. In this Perspective, we review what is known about the correlate of protection for full-dose YF vaccine, current information on waning antibody titers, and gaps in knowledge. Overall, fundamental questions exist on the durability of protective immunity induced by YF vaccine, but interpretation of studies is complicated by the use of different assays and different cut-offs to measure seroprotective immunity, and differing results among certain endemic versus non-endemic populations. Notwithstanding the above, there are few well-characterized reports of vaccine failures, which one would expect to observe potentially more with the re-emergence of a severe disease. Overall, there is a need to improve YF disease surveillance, increase primary vaccination coverage rates in at-risk populations, and expand our understanding of the mechanism of protection of YF vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number54
Journalnpj Vaccines
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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