WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING THE YELLOW FEVER SHOT IN PERU - INCLUDING HOW TO FIND IT IN LIMA, HOW MUCH IT COSTS AND WHY YOU NEED IT.
If you have ever Googled how to get a yellow fever vaccine in Peru, or even Lima specifically, you know how much information (helpful and not-so-helpful) is out there. While doing the research ourselves, we came across so many TripAdvisor threads and web pages declaring THIS is how you get the shot. Well let me tell you, it seems most of those are actually wrong.
In our personal experience, we found it was NOT actually at the main airport in Lima, and is now no longer at the Hospital Nacional Arzobispo Loayza near downtown Lima either (a thread had said it was, but many years ago...).
So while the internet is full of misinformation on the subject, let us tell you how we ended up getting the yellow fever vaccine in Lima, Peru (in about ten minutes no less) for FREE!
GETTING THE YELLOW FEVER VACCINE IN PERU
\\ Yellow Fever in Peru
There are two common questions surrounding the yellow fever vaccine (vacuna contra la fiebre amarilla) and Peru. The first is whether you are required to have the yellow fever vaccine to enter Peru and the second is how common yellow fever actually is in Peru.
Luckily, we are here to answer both of those questions and also give you all the information you need to actually receive the vaccine while in Peru - but more on why you actually need the vaccine in a second.
IS THE YELLOW FEVER VACCINE REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL TO PERU?
The answer is no. You do not actually need to have the yellow fever vaccine to enter Peru. In fact, if you are only planning to stick to areas like Lima (the capital), Cusco and Machu Picchu you really don't even need to think about getting the vaccine.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) only advises travelers to receive the yellow fever vaccine if they are planning to explore the regions of the Amazon Rainforest and/or areas at an elevation of less than 2,300 meter or 7,546 feet. This includes popular tourist areas like Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado, Manu National Park and Pucallpa. If you are planning to either stay along the coast (the Lima and Trujillo areas) or at elevations above 2,300 meters (7,546 feet) then you should not be at risk of getting yellow fever and therefore do not need the vaccine. See the Peru yellow fever map below for more insight.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: while the CDC states that a yellow fever vaccine is not required for travelers just planning to visit Machu Picchu, they also recommend that if you are planning to spend a long period of time in the town of Aguas Calientes (the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu) then you may need to consider getting the vaccine. This is because the town does sit below 2,300 meters (7,546 feet) and it is in a tropical location, i.e. there could be mosquitos carrying yellow fever present. Just some food for thought.
YELLOW FEVER VACCINES AND TRAVELING OUTSIDE OF PERU
While you do not need the yellow fever vaccine to enter Peru you do need it to visit some of its neighboring countries; including, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia (if arriving from Angola, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Uganda). You can find more information on these three countries yellow fever vaccine requirements - including more info on what areas you specifically need the yellow fever vaccine for and which areas are safe - at this WHO website.
HOW COMMON IS YELLOW FEVER IN PERU?
While most of Peru is said to have mosquitos carrying yellow fever (see the map above) in truth, there have been very few confirmed cases of yellow fever in the couple of years. In fact, according to some sources like WHO (the World Health Organization) there have only been 111 cases of yellow fever within Peru in the past six years. Similarly, in 2021 there were only 14 cases - of which 10 were confirmed (4 are still pending investigation).
So, while it is highly recommended that travelers get the vaccine if they are planning to travel to areas where yellow fever could be present, it is not something that needs to keep you up at night. Obviously be smart and take all of the precautions necessary (like getting the vaccine - it is free after all), but definitely do not cancel any adventures you might have planned in Peru due to yellow fever.
\\ Where to Get the Yellow Fever Vaccine in Peru
We originally planned on going to the airport in Lima to get the shot since we had to head over there to pick up our friend anyway. We had read a lot of information explaining that you could just walk into the airport and go to the small hospital inside the international terminal and grab it. Luke, being the smart guy he is, decided to call the airport hospital just to make sure this was still the case. And lucky he did, because they told us we could NOT actually get it there anymore. We don't know when this changed, but according to a woman working at the airport they no longer administered the vaccine.
So we instead headed over to Hospital Nacional Arzobispo Loayza, another spot commonly mentioned as a place to receive the vaccine. After walking around the beautiful and historical gray stone buildings, which reminded us both strongly of the movie “Shutter Island”, looking for any sign of people administering vaccines. We finally found a nurse who spoke okay English and who pointed us to Building 7. Which ended up being… the maternity ward, not exactly what we were looking for.
At first we thought it was some misunderstanding (it wouldn't be the first time someone asked if we had a child or if I (Madalyne) was pregnant). But after looking around some more, we found that on the second floor they do administer vaccines, but just for children and newborns.
But because we were not under a year old (or something to that degree) we couldn't actually get the yellow fever vaccine there. Which was a real bummer. But, they did give us a list of hospitals that we could go to that would have it as well as their times of operation (score). The one the very helpful nurse recommended was Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia, about two miles north of Hospital Loayza.
HOW TO GET TO HOSPITAL NACIONAL CAYETANO HEREDIA
Luckily, while Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia, is farther away from the Lima city center, it is still quite easy to reach.