The United States Tennis Association’s medical director, Dan Isaacs, continues to be uneasy about the outbreak of a herpes simplex virus this spring, especially since a significant number of the players affected appear to have been out for the past few weeks and are slated to return at the U.S. Open. He also repeated the USTA’s call for the players involved to get a vaccine as soon as possible, which has been commonplace on the tour for more than a decade, and reiterated the seriousness of the outbreak by stating that a mere 10 percent response rate may increase the risk to up to half of the participating athletes.
“This is an eventful period for players who are out of the game,” Isaacs said at the USTA’s annual news conference on Thursday. “I just want them to know the precautions we have taken. They need to get the treatment and we would like them to understand the potential of higher recurrence rates if they don’t get the treatment.”
Isaacs said that more than 25 percent of the 850 individuals who have been diagnosed have already been treated, many with antiviral therapy, and said the tennis families involved have done a great job in taking care of their players. While a good number of players seem to have already gotten vaccinated, Isaacs said that it is still “out of our control” whether the remaining 25 percent will be vaccinated. He is asking the players to consider two facts when deciding whether or not to get vaccinated. The first is the issue of disease. “We’re not an environmental organization,” he said. “If you travel a lot and it becomes a natural infection, that’s where this rises to another level. You have to weigh whether or not there is an infection out there.”
The second consideration, Isaacs said, is about personal choice. “That’s a human right,” he said. “They’re allowed to choose not to get the vaccine.”
The families of players who have been diagnosed are encouraged to talk to their doctors before making a decision about whether to get vaccinated. If the decision is made for a family member not to get the vaccine, that family member should not return to competition. For players who have already received the vaccine, the effective date has been set for July 27. For players who have yet to have their shots, the window of opportunity is June 22.
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