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January 23/16 19:02 pm - Study Suggests Athletes Require Special Vaccination Guidelines

Posted by Editor on 01/23/16

A study in the journal Sports Medicine by researchers Barbara C. Gartner and Tim Meyer suggests that elite athletes should follow special vaccination guidelines, since standard public health guidelines do not meet their requirements. In general, the recommendation is that athletes (and team medical staff) should consider additional vaccinations that are not part of the standard public health system. This is particularly timely, given the recent news of a Zika virus outbreak in Brazil.

The study, titled Vaccination in Elite Athletes, states "In many aspects, the medical risk–benefit balance [of vaccination] in elite athletes differs significantly from that of the general population ... Infections have a different significance in competitive sports. For elite athletes, even mild diseases that would never cause absenteeism in the general population are relevant for their individual performance. Seemingly trivial infections might well impair general well-being (or the athlete's perception of being perfectly prepared) and represent an obstacle for the realization of maximal performance."

The authors point out that, "The spectrum of infectious agents potentially affecting athletes is different from that of the general population. Elite athletes are often frequent travelers and, thus, prone to acquire infections not prevalent in their home countries. Also, they frequently have contact with teammates or opponents from countries with a different profile of endemic diseases. Thus, a worldwide spectrum of infectious agents has to be considered."

"Taken together, these facts argue in favor of a more aggressive vaccination policy since the elite athletes might benefit from a vaccine far more than the general population."

The study recommends that all adult elite athletes should receive inactivated vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and the live vaccines against measles, mumps and varicella (if immunity is not proven by a natural infection). A number of these are NOT part of general public health vaccination guidelines.

They also recommend additional vaccines be considered for athletes who travel to or live in certain geographic areas, and many of these certainly impact cyclists, such as ones for tick-borne Encephalitis, Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis (in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe).

The study also goes into detail on the timing of vaccinations and methods of reducing side effects, so as to minimizing interference on athlete training and competition.

Read the full study Here


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