The yellow fever vaccine is a requirement to enter some countries or certain areas around the world. For example Colombia requires it if you are entering any part of the Amazon (and yes, they do ask for proof). I decided I would try to get the yellow fever vaccine before I left for Colombia only to find out that my insurance wouldn’t cover the cost. I found the average price for the yellow fever vaccine was around $150 – $200 using goodrx.
While not crazy expensive, this wasn’t a cost I had built into my travel plans. I was about to get my yellow fever vaccine at CVS, when I discovered it was actually possible to get the yellow fever vaccine for FREE in Colombia.
Within El Dorado International Airport located in Bogota there is a full vaccine clinic. The clinic is open from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. However, they stop taking new patients at around 5:00 pm so plan accordingly.
The clinic is a little bit hidden, but it is located on the departures floor, the second floor. It is located right by door #5. If you are having trouble finding it simply ask for the vaccination clinic and someone should be able to point you in the right direction. You could also ask where the tax refund area is and it is located right behind that.
Once you walk into the clinic there is a little machine with a button that is labeled “vaccination”, push the button and take the slip of paper. This is your number in line so wait for this to be called. It took me about an hour to get my number called, but I think it all depends on when you show up.
When it is your turn you’ll provide your passport and they will give you a piece of paper to look over. This is the list of restrictions and possible side effects, don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish they have an English version as well.
They will provide you with proof of vaccination, however this is in Spanish. While this will work in Colombia, it does need to be verified to get the WHO yellow fever certification.
If you plan on getting the yellow fever vaccine in Colombia and travel to an area where it is required, it is important to note that they require you have had the vaccine 10 days prior to travel.
Now, I always get the question: is the vaccine safe and why is it so cheap? The safe part is easy to answer. Vaccines throughout the world are heavily regulated and go through lots of testing. Yes, they do have possible side effects but as long as you are getting them at an accredited clinic or hospital they know to look out for reactions.
As far as the cost goes, I am not going to go into much detail. But many countries have different types of healthcare systems, which allow for cheaper prices in vaccinations.
Colombia isn’t the only country where free or cheap vaccinations can be found. In Thailand you can get the rabies vaccine for $45 and India has typhoid for $30.
Hopefully this little tip will help you save some additional money on your trip to Colombia!