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Vaccinations

As a professional tennis player, you constantly travel to tournaments and are exposed to new surroundings. From the time you arrive to the airport, travel on the plane, and arrive at the competition site, you may be exposed to individuals with a disease and/or environments where there are diseases not commonly found in your home country. This lifestyle places athletes at a greater risk of being exposed to infectious diseases. Your risk for infection increases if you do not take preventative measures.

 

Thankfully, getting vaccinated against infectious diseases can reduce your risk of being infected. Being sick reduces your ability to train, increases the risk of withdrawal due to illness or longer-term career-interruption due to illness, and negatively affects your on-court tennis performance.

Infectious diseases are:
  • Caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites.
  • Microscopic organisms which can cause disease and/or illness in humans.
  • Directly or indirectly spread:

- From person to person, by direct physical touch or via body fluids, or from breathing infected particles.

- From the environment to person, such as from ingesting infected food or water, being bitten by an infected insect or animal, breathing in diseased particles or spores.

 

Once an infectious disease is in the body, there are a certain number of hours/days it takes to experience symptoms and illness which differs by disease. Sometimes these organisms do not cause symptoms so the person is unaware that they are infected.


Vaccinations:

  • Provide immunity against disease(s) and help PREVENT serious illness or death from disease.
  • Are given via injection or by medicine taken by mouth or via the nose. 

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Influenza

·   A rapid spreading virus, transmitted by coughing, sneezing and/or touching infected items

·   Causes fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and sneezing

·   IS far more serious than the common cold

Rubella (‘German measles’)

·   Highly contagious virus, spread by coughing and sneezing.

·   Causes high fever, skin rash and fatigue

·   If contracted during pregnancy, is  extremely dangerous; can cause birth defects

Hepatitis

·     Five different types. Vaccines exist for A&B

·     Type A spread via infected water or food. Other types transmitted through blood, body fluids and sexual contact

·     Causes liver infection, fever, fatigue, joint pain and jaundice (yellow skin/ eyes)

Tuberculosis (T.B)

·   Bacteria spread by coughing, sneezing and talking

·   Causes lung damage, coughing up blood, weight loss, fatigue and fever

Paratosis (Mumps)

·   Virus spread by sneezing and coughing or touching items handled by infected person

·   Causes fever, headache, fatigue, body aches and swollen salivary glands

Measles

·     Highly contagious virus that causes fever and skin rash

·     Can causes serious and fatal pneumonia and/or meningitis

Tetanus

·   Caused by a bacteria located in dirt, dust and animal feces. 

·   Enters the body via wounds/cuts from infected items (knives, metal)

·    Causes muscle spasms, lock jaw, stiffness

Poliomyelitis (Polio)

·   Spread orally or via fecal matter  

·   Causes minor fever, headache and can cause paralysis (<1% of infected)

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

·     Spread through sexual contact.

·     Causes cervical cancer in women.

·     Vaccine prevents cervical cancer

Pertussis (‘Whooping Cough’)

·   Caused by highly contagious bacterial infection spread via coughing/sneezing

·   Causes characteristic dry, hacking cough

Meningococcal Disease

·   Bacterial infection spread via coughing or kissing

·   Causes meningitis, (infection of membrane covering of brain and spinal cord), and infection in the blood

·   Can be fatal

Diphtheria

·     Bacterial infection spread via coughing, sneezing and touching infected skin sores

·     Causes fever, sore throat, breathing problems, thick mucus in throat and nose

·     Fatal in 5-10% of cases

Varicella (‘Chicken Pox’)

·   Highly contagious airborne virus spread by inhalation or direct contact

·   Causes blistering skin rash in almost all people who get infected

·    Very dangerous for pregnant women and unvaccinated adults

Yellow fever

·   Spread by infected mosquitoes

·   Causes liver infection and jaundice

·    More common in tropical areas, parts of Africa and South America

·    50% of infected and untreated people die

 

Rabies

·      Spread by bite or scratch from an animal infected with the virus

·      Causes fatal brain infection

 

When to get vaccinated?

Below is the immunization schedule for vaccines that are routine (childhood vaccines, and ‘booster' vaccines in adulthood) and selective (applicable when you travel to at risk areas). This schedule is designed for the general public. See your doctor to ensure you are properly vaccinated at all times.


To determine what vaccines you need, consider your: travel plans (where, how long, type of travel), childhood immunizations, country of residence, any allergies you have and your schedule as some vaccinations must be completed a few weeks prior to travel. Your Player Support Team should also be immunized to protect your and their health.

Routine Vaccinations

Selective Vaccines

Ý  Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis

Ý  Hepatitis A & B

Ý  Haemophilus influenzae type B

Ý  Human papilloma virus (HPV)

Ý  Influenza

Ý  Tuberculosis (BCG)

Ý  Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)

Ý  Pneumococcal

Ý  Polio

Ý  Rotavirus

Ý  Varicella (chicken pox)

 

Ý  Cholera

Ý  Japanese encephalitis

Ý  Meningococcal

Ý  Rabies

Ý  Tick-borne encephalitis

Ý  Typhoid fever

Ý  Yellow fever

Protect Yourself, Protect Society

Vaccinations that are available for infectious diseases are the single most effective method of disease prevention. Since their introduction, vaccinations have overwhelmingly reduced the spread of life-threatening diseases and their associated death toll.
Vaccine-preventable diseases affect millions of (unvaccinated) people worldwide:

Athlete + Female = Higher Risk?

 

International travel increases one's exposure to infectious diseases. Some diseases affect more women than men in some world regions. 

  • NO vaccines exist for HIV or malaria. Use preventative measures:
- HIV/AIDS: use barrier methods (condoms) and safe sexual practices 
- Malaria: prevent mosquito bites: use insect repellant, wear long sleeves, use mosquito nets. Take prescribed antimalarial drugs. 
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) in females is linked to cervical cancer. This is the most common sexually transmitted disease worldwide. It is recommended that ALL young women get the HPV vaccine. 
  • Professional tennis players may be at a higher risk of influenza due to decreased immunity which may arise from frequent international travel, competition, training and the emotional and life stressors associated with being an elite athlete. 

 

Benefits of Vaccination

  • Vaccinations can protect you from diseases for life or for an extended period of time.
  • Ask your doctor to review your vaccination status annually when you get your routine physical exam.
  • Update your vaccinations when they are due to ensure effective disease immunity.
  • It costs MUCH less to prevent a disease (i.e. get vaccinated) than to treat the disease.

Myths about Vaccines: BUSTED!

  • Research shows there is NO connection between vaccines and autism in young children. 
  • Ingredients that are found in vaccines are NOT poisonous. They do NOT cause the actual illness.
  • Vaccinations are overwhelmingly safe for most people. It is extremely rare for a vaccine to cause severe harm or death.
  • Vaccinations for diseases such as measles, pertussis and polio have reduced the worldwide incidence of and the death rate from these diseases. Without vaccines, outbreaks may occur and deadly diseases may re-emerge.