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Going to the World Cup?

Get vaccinated for measles, rubella

Friday, April 25, 2014    

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States — The Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) has urged people to protect themselves against measles, rubella and other vaccine-preventable diseases in time for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, as part of efforts to ensure elimination of the diseases in the Americas.

According to PAHO/WHO, endemic transmission of measles in the Americas was interrupted in 2002 and transmission of rubella in 2009. However, measles continues to circulate elsewhere in the world, and some countries in the Americas have reported imported cases.

During Vaccination Week in the Americas — April 26 to May 3 — thousands of health workers and volunteers are expected to vaccinate more 63 million people of all ages against a range of diseases, including polio, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, said the PAHO/WHO.

It said that the theme of this year's initiative, "Vaccination: Your best shot!", is a call to action for people to protect themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup, which is expected to attract some 600,000 visitors from around the world. Of the 32 countries with teams participating in the World Cup, 19 reported measles cases in 2013, the organisation said.

In the Americas, endemic transmission of measles was interrupted in 2002 and transmission of rubella in 2009. However, measles continues to circulate elsewhere in the world, and some countries in the Americas have reported imported cases.

"Vaccination Week in the Americas has been instrumental in our region becoming the first in the world to eliminate measles and rubella," said PAHO Director Carissa F Etienne. "These viruses continue to circulate in other regions of the world [and] the risk of reintroduction of these diseases is especially high during mass-attendance events such as the 2014 World Cup. Getting vaccinated against measles and rubella is your best shot to protect yourself, your family and all the people of the Americas," said the PAHO director.

Intensified international travel and population movement associated with mass events such as the World Cup increase the risk of imported cases of measles, rubella and other vaccine-preventable diseases. For this reason, PAHO/WHO is calling on travellers to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and, if not, to get vaccinated against measles and rubella at least two weeks before travelling.

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