World Cup 2014: Travelers to Brazil Urged to Get Flu Vaccine

As flu season wraps up in the United States, the Southern Hemisphere is beginning its flu season. With large numbers of people congregating in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup this June and July, CDC is recommending that travelers to the region who have not yet gotten a flu vaccine during the 2013-14 season, get vaccinated now.

The 2014 World Cupexternal icon is scheduled to kick off on June 12 in Brazil, and will bring in an estimated 3.7 million visitors. With so many people from all over the globe convening in close quarters at games and other venues, flu viruses could easily and quickly spread. The Pan American Health Organizationexternal icon already is reporting significant influenza activity in Brazil, with 11% of respiratory virus samples testing positive for influenza. So far, most of the viruses detected in Brazil have been H3N2 flu viruses, but there have been media reports of H1N1 activity as well.

Flu vaccines protect against three or four different influenza viruses, including an H3N2 virus, an H1N1 virus and an influenza B virus. Most circulating viruses analyzed thus far have been similar to the viruses that the 2013-2014 seasonal vaccine is designed to protect against.

Flu vaccination is the single best way to protect against the flu. People should get vaccinated at least two weeks before travel since it takes about two weeks for protective antibodies to develop. The more people who are vaccinated against the flu, the less flu illness can spread through the community.

Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu. People at high risk include adults age 65 years and older, children younger than five years of age, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

More than 134 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed in the United States this season. While vaccine may be more difficult to locate at this time of year, there still should be supply available. You may need to call more than one location to find vaccineexternal icon. All flu vaccines produced for the United States for use during 2013-2014 expire by the end of June, so be sure to get vaccinated before then. Travelers who are unable to find flu vaccine in the U.S. but are planning to spend longer periods of time in Brazil may be able to locate flu vaccines produced for the Southern Hemisphere in Brazil, however vaccination before travel is ideal.

In addition to getting a flu vaccine, travelers should check CDC’s Traveler’s Health page for information about other recommended immunizations for travel to Brazil for the World Cup. The page also offers other important health tips and preventive actions to keep you healthy during your trip.