Yellow fever vaccine safety in immunocompromised individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Travel Med. 2023 Apr 5;30(2):taac095. doi: 10.1093/jtm/taac095.


Background: Yellow fever (YF) is an arbovirus with variable severity, including severe forms with high mortality. The vaccination is the most effective measure to protect against the disease. Non-serious and serious adverse events have been described in immunocompromised individuals, but previous studies have failed to demonstrate this association. This systematic review assessed the risk of adverse events after YF vaccination in immunocompromised individuals compared with its use in non-immunocompromised individuals.

Methods: A search was conducted in the MEDLINE, LILACS, EMBASE, SCOPUS, DARE, Toxiline, Web of Science and grey literature databases for publications until February 2021. Randomized and quasi-randomized clinical trials and observational studies that included immunocompromised participants (individuals with HIV infection, organ transplants, with cancer, who used immunosuppressive drugs for rheumatologic diseases and those on immunosuppressive therapy for other diseases) were selected. The methodological quality of observational or non-randomized studies was assessed by the ROBINS-I tool. Two meta-analyses were performed, proportion and risk factor analyses, to identify the summary measure of relative risk (RR) in the studies that had variables suitable for combination.

Results: Twenty-five studies were included, most with risk of bias classified as critical. Thirteen studies had enough data to carry out the proposed meta-analyses. Seven studies without a comparator group had their results aggregated in the proportion meta-analysis, identifying an 8.5% [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07-21.8] risk of immunocompromised individuals presenting adverse events after vaccination. Six cohort studies were combined, with an RR of 1.00 (95% CI 0.78-1.29). Subgroup analysis was performed according to the aetiology of immunosuppression and was also unable to identify an increased risk of adverse events following vaccination.

Conclusions: It is not possible to affirm that immunocompromised individuals, regardless of aetiology, have a higher risk of adverse events after receiving the YF vaccine.

Keywords: Yellow fever; adverse events; immunocompromised; systematic review; yellow fever vaccine.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Vaccination / adverse effects
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine* / adverse effects
  • Yellow Fever* / prevention & control


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine