On Sunday, the official U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) website announced that all athletes competing in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing will be required to be vaccinated for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and varicella zoster, which is also known as chickenpox.
“The U.S. team to the 2022 Games must be vaccinated for any range of infectious diseases and includes considerations to protect athletes and the community,” the website read. “Therefore, any competitor on the U.S. Olympic Team who has been exposed to H.B.V.A., hepatitis A, or VZV with no history of acute illness will be required to receive a varicella and hepatitis A vaccine.”
The USOC also said that athletes who wish to compete in the games will have to take a written immunization statement from a “qualified provider” before they can be cleared to compete. The statement must include the name of the “physician, healthcare professional, or qualified provider,” the location and date of vaccination, a description of the disease, and the dosage and side effects of the vaccine.
The USOC also announced that the preservative thimerosal is currently prohibited for use in any vaccine, including the varicella vaccine, which has a small but vocal group of critics who claim that thimerosal is harmful to children.
“Due to this recent change in the USOC rules and recommendations and the best interests of Olympic athletes, USOC will no longer offer the varicella vaccine to children,” a spokesperson said. “USOC will continue to encourage parents to monitor the treatment for chickenpox and to not let the disease linger as a means of promoting vaccination compliance.”