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Jan 5, 2010 8:06 PM by Andy Koen

Surgeon General visits USOC for vaccination push

The nation's top doctors are in Colorado Springs with a message for Olympic athletes and the community; Get vaccinated.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and CDC Director Anne Schuchat joined State Health Officer Ned Calonge at the US Olympic Training Center Tuesday to encourage vaccinations ahead of the Winter Olympic Games.

"We want you to be just as prepared against getting the flu as you are for your individual sporting events," Benjamin told the crowd at newss conference early in the day.

Most of athletes who are competing in Vancour next month have already received their H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccines.  So, the push at Tuesday's event is for coaches, support staff and even fans to get vaccinated ahead of the games.

CDC director Schuchat says the H1N1 flu virus hasn't gone away and the seasonal flu generally shows up around this time of year.

"We are concerned that this is the kind of event, with crowds, with people from all over the place, where viruses could circulate," Schuchat said.

Dr. Jim Moeller, the chief medical officer for the US Olympic Committee said the athletes he works with know how devastating getting the flu can be.

"If you're sick for 7 to 10 days leading into the games that de-conditioning that can occur can be significant and can really affect their ability to peak at the right time for their event."

Aside from promoting vaccinations, the doctors also got to tour the Olympic Training Center and got to see some of the athletes in action.

Their visit centered mainly around the medical facilities and the sports medicine technology available to athletes here.

Cases of H1N1 flu have dropped off some since peaking in the fall, however CDC Director Schuchat says we may not be out of the woods yet. 

She's encouraging everyone to get the vaccine now, since there is an abundant supply.

"Everyone who's been stepping aside and waiting until there's enough vaccine, it's your time now."

A similar flu vaccination event took place Tuesday in Alaska at the US Cross Country Skiing Championships in Anchorage.  The 2010 Winter Olympics begin February 12.

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