Few studies have assessed the duration of humoral immunity following yellow fever (YF) vaccination in a non-endemic population. We evaluated seropositivity among US resident travellers based on time post-vaccination.
We identified serum samples from US travellers with YF virus-specific plaque reduction neutralization testing (PRNT) performed at CDC from 1988 to 2016. Analyses were conducted to assess the effect of time since vaccination on neutralizing antibody titer counts.
Among 234 travellers who had neutralizing antibody testing performed on a specimen obtained ≥1 month after vaccination, 13 received multiple YF vaccinations and 221 had one dose of YF vaccine reported. All 13 who received more than one dose of YF vaccine had a positive PRNT regardless of the amount time since most recent vaccination. Among the 221 travellers with one reported dose of YF vaccine, 155 (70%) were vaccinated within 10 years (range 1 month-9 years) and 66 (30%) were vaccinated ≥10 years (range 10-53 years) prior to serum collection. Among the 155 individuals vaccinated, <10 years prior to serum collection, 146 (94%) had a positive PRNT compared with 82% (54/66) of individuals vaccinated ≥10 years prior to serum collection (P = 0.01). Post-vaccination PRNT titers showed a time-dependent decrease. Individuals with immunocompromising conditions were less likely to have a positive PRNT (77%) compared with those who were not immunocompromised (92%; P = 0.04).
Although the percentage of vaccinees with a positive PRNT and antibody titers decreased over time, a single dose of YF vaccine provided long-lasting protection in the majority of US travellers. A booster dose could be considered for certain travellers who are planning travel to a high risk area based on immune competence and time since vaccination.