TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced
today that it has begun an immunization program for Canadian athletes
attending the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing against hepatitis A and B - two
serious liver diseases endemic in China. The combined hepatitis A and
hepatitis B vaccine, Twinrix(R) was donated by GlaxoSmithKline Inc.
"The health and well-being of our athletes is our main concern," said Dr.
Bob McCormack, Chief Medical Officer for the Canadian Olympic Team. "The
donation from GlaxoSmithKline ensures our athletes won't have to worry about
exposure to hepatitis A and B, conditions that could derail them in
competition. Protecting them from serious but preventable diseases they may be
exposed to in Beijing means they face one less obstacle in their path to the
Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes may receive their immunization
through one of seven Canadian Sport Centers across the country that work in
conjunction with the COC. Athletes will receive the three shots prior to
leaving for Beijing.
Hepatitis A is usually spread by close personal or household contact, or
by ingesting contaminated food or water.(1) Hepatitis B is spread through body
fluid exposure such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva.(2) As
China is a high risk region for both Hepatitis A and B, people who will be
attending the Olympic Games as spectators or traveling to China in general,
should speak to their doctor about proper precautions, including immunization.
The Canadian Immunization Guide recommends hepatitis A and B immunization
for those traveling to high risk areas,(3) which includes most regions outside
Canada, the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and most of Western
The donation of Twinrix(R) to the Canadian Olympic Committee has been
facilitated through the cooperation of Johnson & Johnson, Official Partner of
the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Worldwide Partner of the
International Olympic Committee (IOC), and partner of more than 200 National
Olympic Committees around the world. As the Official Health Care Products
Sponsor, Johnson & Johnson companies work with the Canadian Olympic Committee
to support the athletes and promote quality health care practices.
About Hepatitis A and B
Hepatitis A and B are serious liver diseases.
Hepatitis A can last a few weeks to several months and typical symptoms
include loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, fever, and jaundice. Globally,
there are 1.4 million cases reported each year, but the true incidence may be
3 to 10 times greater due to asymptomatic infection, underdiagnosis and
Hepatitis B is significantly more infectious than HIV.(6) There are two
forms of hepatitis B: acute and chronic. Of the two billion people worldwide
who have been infected with the hepatitis B virus, more than 350 million have
chronic infections.(7) Up to 5 per cent of infected adults progress to chronic
hepatitis B and this potentially lifelong infection can lead to cirrhosis of
the liver, liver cancer, or liver failure.(8) The most common symptoms of
hepatitis B are jaundice, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal
Twinrix vaccine has not been shown to reduce morbidity, mortality and
long-term complications. Twinrix vaccine is indicated for active immunization
against hepatitis A and hepatitis B virus infection in adults, adolescents,
children and infants. The vaccine will not protect against hepatitis C or
hepatitis E virus infection and other pathogens known to infect the liver. The
most common side effects reported with a 3 or 4 dose schedule are redness,
swelling and pain at the site of injection, headache, malaise, nausea and
About The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC)
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is a national, private,
not-for-profit organization committed to sport excellence. It is responsible
for all aspects of Canada's involvement in the Olympic movement, including
Canada's participation in the Olympic and Pan American Games and a wide
variety of programs that promote the Olympic movement in Canada through
cultural and educational means. For more information, see the COC website:
(R) Twinrix is a registered trademark, used under license by
(1) Canadian Immunization Guide Seventh Edition 2006.
(2) Canadian Immunization Guide Seventh Edition 2006.
(3) Canadian Immunization Guide and World Health Organization.
International Travel and Health, Vaccination Requirements and Health Advice,
Vaccinations. World Health Organization 2001.
World Health Organization. Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and
(5) www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/01vol27/27sup/acs2.html, Public
Health Agency of Canada, Statement on Hepatitis A Vaccines for Travellers.
(6) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention and Control of
Infections with Hepatitis Viruses in Correctional Settings. Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report 2003;52(RR-1):1-36.
(7) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/, World Health
Organization, Hepatitis B Fact Sheet
(8) Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Diseases,
Disorders and Injuries.
For further information:
For further information: For Media Only: Steve Keogh, Manager,
Communications, Canadian Olympic Committee, Phone: (416) 324-4146,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Sylvie Bigras, Manager, Games Communications, Canadian
Olympic Committee, Cell: (613) 298-1625, email@example.com; Corporate
Communications, GlaxoSmithKline Inc., (905) 819-3363