Article by
Dani Reiter

Wimbledon Tennis & Measles Should Not Mix

Public Health England, Canada and US travel advisories say measles remains a threat to international travelers

Wimbledon tennis facility in London

Public Health England (PHE) issued a measles travel alert saying the ‘infectious virus remains a threat to international travelers this summer.’ 

Dr. Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said in a press release on June 21, 2019, “Measles is incredibly easy to catch, especially if you’re under-vaccinated and traveling to affected countries.”

“Measles is circulating in England and the rest of Europe.” 

This PHE measles travel alert also applies to those visiting London this summer, such as tennis fans attending The Championships, Wimbledon. 

Starting on July 1, 2019, the All England Lawn and Tennis & Croquet Club will host over 450,000 tennis fans from around the world. 

Unfortunately, this classic facility is located within London’s measles outbreak area.

On May 28, 2019, PHE notified educators in the north and west London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster warning them to be vigilant for the highly contagious infection.   

Recently published PHE data showed that 975 measles cases were reported during April and May 2019. 

Caused by a highly contagious virus, measles is a disease that spreads from person to person by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. An infected person can easily spread measles up to 4 days before and 4 days after symptoms become visible. 

Moreover, measles can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, and even death. 

Which leads to the question, why hasn’t PHE extended their measles warnings to include the tennis community gathering at Wimbledon for 2 weeks in July? 

To increase awareness with international travelers to the UK, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Canadian government reissued Level 1 Travel Alerts. 

These Travel Alerts mean before traveling to London, England, you should speak with a healthcare provider regarding measles immunization status. 

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There are two measles-containing vaccines available in the United States: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine, says the CDC.

The MMRV vaccine can only be used for children aged 1 through 12 years. 

If you and your travel companions have received 2 doses of a measles-containing vaccine (and can document both of them), you have sufficient protection against the disease. 

You are also protected against measles if you have laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles disease, or if you were born before 1957. 

Furthermore, certain groups of people should not get measles-containing vaccines. 

If you are not sure if you are protected fully against measles, schedule an appointment to see your healthcare provider at least 1 month before traveling internationally. 

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In conclusion, Dr. Ramsay said, “Before traveling you should ensure you and your family are up to date with all currently recommended UK vaccines. It’s never too late to get protected.” 

In the USA, international travelers can request a vaccine appointment with a pharmacy at Vax-Before-Travel. 

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information, and financial support programs can be found Vaccine Discounts.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report vaccine side effects to the CDC.