World Cup travelers urged to get measles vaccine

With less than two weeks before the start of the World Cup, health officials in Cayman are urging those traveling to Brazil for the tournament to get vaccinated against measles immediately if they are not already inoculated.

The Public Health Department has issued a reminder to local residents planning to attend the World Cup to complete their vaccinations before making the trip.

“All residents of the Cayman Islands traveling to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, including delegation members and media personnel, should be fully vaccinated against measles and rubella prior to their travel,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar.

“Essentially all vaccinations should be completed at least two weeks before travel. As we are now at the start of June, we are making a special call for those who intend to travel to this region and have not yet been vaccinated, to do so immediately,” Dr. Kumar added.

An estimated 600,000 fans are expected to attend the World Cup, which kicks off June 12. Nineteen of the 32 countries participating in the World Cup had reported measles cases in 2013, according to the Public Health Department statement.

“Officials are concerned that the easy access and frequency of air travel will put all non-immune persons at risk for infectious diseases and could reintroduce the viruses in the Americas,” the statement read.

All travelers to the World Cup over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against measles and rubella, preferably with the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, according to the statement.

“Travelers who are not up to date with their vaccines are at greater risk of contracting these diseases when in close contact with infected persons in countries and locations where the viruses still circulate,” it says.

Travelers to Brazil are advised to contact the Public Health Clinic on 244-2648 or Faith Hospital on 948-2243 for an appointment, or to consult their physician to seek the necessary vaccination and travel advisory.