New Delhi: The Indian government urgently procured yellow fever vaccine from multinational companies, after a severe shortage resulting in people being unable to travel to Africa and some South American countries.Visas to Africa and sub-tropical South American countries can be obtained only after the applicant submits a certificate given by one of the country's 15 authorized vaccination centers.

"There was a shortage, but the government has imported the vaccine from multinational companies like Sanofi Pasteur and the stock has arrived on July 11," Director General of Health Services Jagdish Prasad said.

Earlier, the vaccine was manufactured at the Central Research Institute, Kasauli. But this stopped after the two machines that were used for the purpose, broke down.

The total requirement for the vaccine is around 10.5 million vials. While CRI, Kasauli used to manufacture around 4 million vials, the balance was met through imports, a senior health ministry official said, adding the institute was never prepared to handle the huge demand.

Yashpal Jain, a businessman who is scheduled to travel to Zambia and has been running from pillar to post to get the vaccine said, "There are four centers in Delhi and all of them have run out of the vaccine. I will wait for another 10 days and then try again."

Another group of people who have been hit are vacationers. Lalit Sharma, who had planned a summer holiday in South America, said, "There has been a severe shortage across the country. I have not been able to get the vaccine shot and hence have postponed the trip."

Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. It is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes aegypti female mosquito and is found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and in all of Africa, but not in Asia.

Apart from being important for personal protection, yellow fever vaccination and its proof is a condition of entry in many countries, especially for travellers who have recently arrived from a country in a yellow fever zone.

Failure to take the vaccination may get one past immigration, but would certainly mean quarantine for 10 days on return in a government hospital, experts said.

(Agencies)

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