Soccer and Measles Don't Mix at FIFA World Cup

Measles reported by 28 of 32 countries participating in the 2018 World Cup

fifa world cup stadium

Before traveling to the 2018 FIFA World Cup beginning June 14, 2018, officials are recommending you obtain protection from various infectious diseases, such as measles.

Russia, the World Cup host country, has reported more than 600 cases during 2018.

Around 1 million people are expected to travel to the World Cup.

Measles has been reported by 28 of 32 countries participating in the World Cup during 2018.

This means the expanded international travel to the World Cup increases the risk of disease transmission by soccer fans when returning to their home countries.

Highly contagious diseases, such as measles, can have grave consequences on the health of unvaccinated populations, says the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

Measles is transmitted from person to person primarily by the airborne route as aerosolized droplet nuclei. Infected people are usually contagious from 4 days before and until 4 days after rash onset.

Cuauhtémoc Ruiz Matus, Head of the Comprehensive Family Immunization Unit at PAHO said in a press release, “Those traveling to Russia should make sure that their vaccines are up-to-date, particularly those that protect against measles and rubella.”

The PAHO/WHO has been issuing vaccination warning to international travelers since May 2017.

This followed a 22-year effort that included the mass vaccination of 450 million children, adolescents, and adults under the age of 40 from all over the continent between 2003 and 2009.

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However, imported cases and recent outbreaks in some countries have put these achievements at risk.

For the European Region as a whole, more measles cases have been reported during 2018 than in the previous 5 years combined. 

Which is why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) recommends travelers to the EU ensure their measles vaccinations are up to date.

“As the international travel season kicks off, it is important to check your immunization status with a pharmacist before departure”, said Samir Balile, RPh, Pharm.D. Clinical Programs Specialist at Giant Pharmacy.

“The safest and most effective way an individual can protect themselves from the measles is through MMRV immunization.”  

"Regardless, of where your travels take you, a certified travel vaccine pharmacist is a great resource who is trained to identify and administer potential vaccines that you and your family need in order to have a safe and happy summer," says Balile.

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In the USA, two approved measles vaccines are available, MMR-II and ProQuad.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information, and vaccine discounts can be found here.

Measles vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.