COLORADO SPRINGS — Flu shots are going in arms in Olympic City USA when it is not flu season--at least not in this part of the world.
"Summer here is the winter in the southern hemisphere and that's their flu season," said United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jonathan Finnoff.
The U.S. Olympic delegation is getting vaccinated for protection against more than COVID-19 as they prepare to head to the Tokyo Olympics. Athletes and staff lined up for protection against southern hemisphere flu. Japan is also not in flu season.
"While Tokyo is in the northern hemisphere, there are a lot of countries that are in the southern hemisphere that are traveling to the games,” said Finnoff. There is the possibility of transporting the flu virus if they have been exposed.
Part of ensuring elite athletes peak for the summer games is minimizing their chances of getting sick. "The last thing we want is for one of our delegation members, whether it's an athlete or one of our staff members to go to the games and get the flu and not be able to participate," said Finnoff.
Flu shots may seem common, but this vaccine is specific to flu in the southern hemisphere. The USOC had to get FDA approval. Finnoff said they then made a special request to the one supplier in the United States.
"They only sell it to the military, so we had to approach them and say could we get it for our delegation members, would you make it available for us for the summer games.”
Finnoff said UCHealth Memorial Hospital then stepped up making its pharmacy and staff available.
"No problem you can ship to our pharmacy, we'll store it appropriately, we'll record everything because when you are doing vaccinations you need to make sure that all of that is reported appropriately."
UCHealth Memorial also staffed the vaccination clinics for Team USA.