Get Your Yellow Fever Vaccine FOR FREE at Rio de Janeiro’s Posto de Saude

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Costa Rica in the end of November, I was confirming all of my flight, hotel, and transportation details. I double-checked the visa requirements, and realized I’d made a big error.

On the Costa Rica embassy page, there’s the typical stuff about the tourist visa. Americans don’t need visas, but they do need a ticket exiting Costa Rica (which I have). All the way down at the bottom of the page, though…

“5. Yellow Fever Vaccine

If you will be traveling to Costa Rica from South America and/or sub-Saharan Africa, you will need theYELLOW FEVER VACCINE. The countries considered at risk are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon,Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia,Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru,Guyana and Venezuela. You can travel to Costa Rica ten days after the shot. Exceptions

Uh oh.

I leave in less than three weeks and began scrambling to find a clinic to do my vaccine.

I started looking into private, specialized vaccine clinics (fearing the worst after my recent Rio hospital run-in). They were actually really, really hard to find on Google! I asked my handy Facebook expat groups for help, but one recommended clinic was no longer in operation, and the others weren’t offering the vaccine, so I wandered from clinic to clinic – putting my minimal Portuguese skills to good use as no one spoke English. Finally, I went into a hospital and asked there. The nurse pointed me to Kinder Vaccine Clinic. Upon arrival, the nurse explained that private clinics cannot give the certificate I need for travel, though they can perform the vaccine (WHAT?!). The only option if a vaccine certificate is needed (like for me, for travel to Costa Rica), is to go to the Posto de Saude. The nurse recommended the location in Gavea, and that I go in the afternoon, so that it would be less busy. Maybe the only bright side? The yellow fever vaccine at a Posto de Saude is FREE!

The private hospital I’d gone to in October was a nightmare, how bad would the public clinic be? With no other option, since I REALLY want to go to Costa Rica and everything is already booked, I hailed a cab.

Posto de Saude For Yellow Fever Vaccine

The driver had no idea where the Posto de Saude of Gavea was located, so we drove around for a bit asking pedestrians for directions. Eventually – success!

The Posto de Saude for the yellow fever vaccine to Costa Rica was located behind dilapidated, rusting colored metal gates. The complex is semi-outdoors, with the waiting spaces outside under awnings.

Posto de Saude in Rio de Janeiro for yellow fever vaccine (2)

the Posto de Saude waiting “room”

It reminded me of an abandoned hospital (a la Jurassic Park), as the forest seemed to be taking back over, and plants sprouted everywhere.

The signs are all in Portuguese, so bring a friend or a dictionary. With the help of a friendly officer, I found my way to the immunizations room (Room #12).

Posto de Saude in Rio de Janeiro for yellow fever vaccine (2)

everything about the Yellow Fever Vaccine… in Portuguese

I waited for about an hour until I was called in, handed over my passport, and answered a few simple questions. An English-speaking couple with a newborn were also waiting for vaccines, and helped me with a few questions I didn’t understand. Bing bang boom, the nurse grabbed a wad of cotton, brushed off my arm, and injected the vaccine. She even double checked to be sure that I was receiving all of the vaccines suggested for travel to Costa Rica.

Another 30 minutes later (for the creation of the international certificate), and I was all set!

Posto de Saude in Rio de Janeiro for yellow fever vaccine (2)

Overall, while the Posto de Saude looked a bit sketchy, it was a much better, more organized and efficient experience than with the private clinic! Everyone I encountered was super nice and friendly, and patient with my poor Portuguese.

Best of all? The rumors are correct – the yellow fever vaccine at a posto de saude is free!

Need to Know about Getting Your FREE Yellow Fever Vaccine Certificate in Rio de Janeiro:

Location: Centro Municipal de Saúde Píndaro de Carvalho Rodrigues

Phone Numbers: (21) 2274-2796, (21) 2274-6977

Located on: Av. Padre Leonel Franca, Gávea, Rio de Janeiro

Email: cmspcrodrigues@rio.rj.gov.br (I wouldn’t count on it)

I was told at the clinic that the hours are until 8pm, but the website says 5pm, and sometimes Saturdays, so as with most public services in Brazil, it’s best to double check by calling!

Many immunizations are offered, and the Posto de Saude also treats illnesses. Most services are free.

UPDATE 12-14-2015: It was required to show yellow fever vaccination certificate for entrance into Costa Rica. So, don’t skip this step if you’re coming from a certificate-required country (like I was from Brazil)

UPDATE 05-05-2016: It was also required to show the yellow fever vaccination certificate for entrance into Bolivia, as an American.

UPDATE 06-06-2017: I’ve received a reader report that Centro Especial de Vacinação Dr. Álvaro Aguiar (this clinic) can also give the vaccine and provide the official certificate needed for entrance, for free.

Necessary Details: Rio de Janeiro

What Else to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Check out my full guide to Rio de Janeiro here, which includes the best suggestions for hiking (including my favorite Morro do Leme hike), where to eat, weekend getaways from the city (including Buzios), and the best beaches.
You can read every article I’ve ever written about Rio de Janeiro (and there’s a lot: I lived there for almost two years!) here.
Viator offers a bunch of different Rio de Janeiro tour options, including for visiting Christ the Redeemer, and provides excellent customer service and refunds if anything goes wrong — much more than local operators would do.
Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro
If you have around $100 per night to spend, you can’t get a better value than Rio 180 hotel — each room is a suite and has its own private hot tub along with incredible views!
For a wider range of pricing options, check here
How to Arrive to Rio de Janeiro 
You can take the bus into Rio de Janeiro from many destinations within Brazil, but most people choose to fly. While Copa Airlines isn’t my favorite carrier, they do usually offer the cheapest flights. To check the latest low prices on airfare to Brazil, try Skyscanner , or if you have some date and/or destination flexibility and want to score the absolute lowest prices, try Kiwi.com.
Visa information for Brazil and Visa Renewal in Rio de Janeiro
I’ve written an extensive post (along with Q&A about the topic in the comments) here
Steph

A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. 6 years later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Puebla. Steph is on to her next adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She is traveling the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

12 Comments

  1. Kevin
    June 21, 2017 / 2:00 pm

    Thank you so much! This helped me astronomically. Still current as of today. God bless!

    • Steph
      Author
      June 21, 2017 / 2:19 pm

      Yay so glad it could help!! Enjoy your future travels!

  2. Ac
    July 20, 2017 / 7:41 am

    Hey. I am looking for info. I’ll try the clinic that you went to. Your newer link doesn’t work for me.

    • JoyAndJourneyEdit
      July 20, 2017 / 7:45 am

      I’ve updated the article with the name of the clinic, the link is to a facebook page for that clinic.

      Best of luck!

  3. Carris
    November 28, 2017 / 1:08 pm

    Hey! We are currently in central America and are traveling to Brazil in febuary, we have heard that you need a yellow fever vaccination in order to enter Brazil and are struggling to find one here. How did you enter Brazil in the first place without the vaccination? And would tourists be able to get the vaccine at the clinic your post mentions? Many Thanks for any light you can shed, Carris

    • Steph
      Author
      November 29, 2017 / 11:08 am

      Hi Carrie,

      When I first entered Brazil, I was moving from Thailand to Brazil and did NOT need a yellow fever vaccination at that time (it was a few years ago though so the req’s could have changed). The requirements may vary depending on the countries you will have visited and the country you are entering from. If you are traveling through high risk countries, many other countries will require the vaccine (for example, I had to show it in Costa Rica and in Bolivia).

      Once in Brazil, ANYONE can get the yellow fever vaccination at the Posto de Saude or any of the other clinics mentioned. That includes expats, locals, and visitors.

  4. tom
    March 27, 2018 / 4:19 am

    i am in a pickle. i am stuck at rio airport and need yellow fever card. once u get the shot and the card in the pic….whats next? can i present it at the airport and fly on another flight same day? thanks a million

    • Steph
      Author
      March 27, 2018 / 7:58 am

      Hi Tom,
      It depends on the country you’re entering. For my trip, at that time (3 years ago), I had to have the vaccination at least 2 weeks before arrival. I’d recommend looking up the entry requirements for the country you want to go to.

      Best of luck!

  5. August 26, 2018 / 3:33 am

    Hey – THANK YOU so much for this post 🙂

    It came in super handy and worked.

    I arrived safely to Koh Phangan Thailand a few days ago (Phuket & C.Mai have been my other homebase for past 5-yrs) and just wanted to pass along some updated info to this post since I lived in Copa for 6-weeks.

    Luckily the day I went, there was a nurse who spoke a little english and with the help of Google translator on her phone, we were able to communicate. So bring your smartphone if you don’t speak Portuguese.

    #1 – Before arriving, make sure to bring a copy of your air flight ticket leaving Brazil and maybe the one going to Thailand. They needed it for the paperwork.

    #2 – Bring your local Rio address (mine of my airbnb) and a telephone #.

    #3 – The day I went, it was Fri afternoon. They only could give me the shot of the yellow fever. So the nurse will give you a small PAPER SLIP to return. Do not lose that! You need to give it back.

    For the actual paperwork certificate, I had to come back Monday BETWEEN 8AM – 12-pm in order to get it.
    The room to get this paperwork filled out is DIFFERENT than the nurse room giving vaccine.
    You have to goto Room 6 which is ACROSS the nurse room giving the shot.
    Knock on the door and explain to the lady you’re here for the yellow fever certificate.

    IF she’s busy, just wait and have a seat. She will call you when she’s done w/ the current patient (like me).

    When ready, you sit next to her on the computer. She’ll ask for your passport & the small slip.
    What she’s doing is creating your official vaccine cert.
    Before leaving, she will ask you to CONFIRM your name & passport # – so VERIFY it.
    For me, they used my middle name as my last name so had to correct them.

    If it’s all good, just sign it. They said it’s good for LIFE now and no need to get it again.

    Then that’s it!

    Hope this helps.

    Obrigado 🙂

    • Steph
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 3:38 pm

      THanks for this update!

  6. August 26, 2018 / 3:37 am

    forgot to mention – Thailand Immigration in BKK DIDN”T EVEN ASK ME FOR THE YELLOW FEVER cert!!!!
    Crazy. They didn’t even ask anything about my time in Peru, Ecuador or Brazil.
    Oh well, better safe than sorry.

    Steph- seems we’ve been on same journey. I lived in Phuket/CMai for 5-yrs, Bali, then was in Playa Del Carmen for a few months this year, then Rio.

    I’ve loved living in Latin America for past 7months but realized how much I miss SEA.
    Next time I wanna check out PV and Oaxaca.

    • Steph
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 3:40 pm

      Yeah, I’ve also never been asked for any certification when going to Thailand. The only time I’ve ever had to show it was in Bolivia and Costa Rica.

      All great places! I lived in Bangkok for about 2 years, Rio for about a year and a half, and then now I’ve been in Mexico for nearly 3 years (Puebla, Mexico City, and now Puerto Vallarta). Highly recommend PV and Oaxaca! But I definitely feel you on southeast asia… It’s a very special place that I miss everyday. I’d jump at the chance to move back!

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