French Open Serves Cristal Champagne and Measles

MMR vaccination recommended for all travelers to France
clay tennis court stadium
France (Vax Before Travel)

During the French Open each May, most attendees envision sipping Cristal champagne while watching world-class athletes compete on Roland Garros' famous ‘red-dirt’ courts.

This unique playing surface in Paris makes for a different game, often dominated by tennis legend Rafael Nadal.

But, most tennis players and fans are not aware that just a few miles away in the Bordeaux, Gironde, and Vienne regions, another historic battle is underway.

Throughout France, the measles virus has become an ongoing epidemic.

Measles is among the most contagious viral diseases known, and humans are the only natural host for sustaining virus transmission.

The May 2018 EU Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) reports France recorded 753 new measles cases for March, which is an increase from the 523 cases in February 2018.

Not only is measles continuing to spread, but infants are the most impacted. The May 2018 report identified 28 infant deaths related to measles.

In developing countries, the measles case-fatality rate can be as high as 25 percent. 

Health officials report that 90 percent of exposed, unvaccinated people will become ill with measles after entering a room which housed an infected person 2 hours beforehand.

To reverse this negative trend, the French health authorities have taken action issuing a new policy requiring 2 Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) doses for individuals born after 1980, and for all children born after January 1, 2018. 

According to local authorities, the problem in France is that up to one million people did not receive the necessary, second MMR vaccination.

"This second MMR dose is necessary for the elimination of the disease because between 7% and 8% of children do not react to the administration of the first vaccine," the doctor Daniel Lévy-Bruhl told Le Monde newspaper.

France is the birthplace of immunology pioneer Louis Pasteur and is also a worldwide leader of anti-vaxx misinformation.

In a previous survey, just 41 percent of French citizens self-reported that they believe vaccines are safe.

Heidi Larson Ph.D., the lead author of this survey says, “Public trust in immunization is an increasingly important global health issue. Losses in confidence can lead to vaccine refusal, risking disease outbreaks.”

In the USA, the CDC has issued a Level 1 Alert, saying travelers to France should make sure they are vaccinated against measles with the MMR.

This CDC Alert is related to another study, which reported more than 50 percent of international travelers who are eligible for the MMR vaccine, were not vaccinated before leaving the country.

“The recent rise of measles in many European nations is a significant concern to international travelers. The safest and most effective way an individual can protect themselves from the measles is through immunization”, says Samir Balile, RPh, Pharm.D. Clinical Programs Specialist at Giant Pharmacy.

"Regardless, of where your travels may take you, visit a certified pharmacist who is trained to identify and administer vaccines that you and your family need to have a safe journey overseas," said Balile.

In the USA, measles vaccines are available at most pharmacies. 

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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.