CONI plans swine flu vaccinations for Winter Games
The Italian Olympic Committee plans to vaccinate its athletes and officials against swine flu for the Vancouver Winter Games and Paralympics. CONI president Giovanni Petrucci made the decision Friday after meeting with Italian deputy health minister Ferruccio Fazio. "The urgent and absolute priority for CONI is the vaccination of the Italian delegation for Vancouver 2010," Petrucci told ANSA news agency. Italy is expected to take 350 athletes, coaches and staff to the Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics. The games will run from Feb. 12-28. "Ours is a category that is at risk, but we don't want to spread alarm where there isn't any," Petrucci said. "The commission that was created between the minister and the president of the (CONI medical) council will monitor the situation and any possible alarm. We shall began with Olympians and then we shall see (for other sports)." Meanwhile, some Italian teams have decided to vaccinate their players against swine flu after eight players from fourth-tier club Lucchese contracted the virus. "At the moment, we are playing every three days between the championship and Champions League," Inter Milan doctor Franco Combi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You wonder what a pandemic in the squad could do to results." AC Milan also plans to give its players the vaccine. "We are concerned but not panicking and are waiting for the OK from the ministry (of health)," Milan doctor Professor Massimo Manara said. "The players have been fully informed and are in favor of the vaccine." Fears of the virus being passed on in matches were raised this week when authorities in England warned players to avoid spitting to lessen the risk. "We are in favor of the vaccinations because athletes are among those most at risk," Juventus doctor Bartolomeo Goitre said. Italy has reported at least six deaths related to swine flu over the past two months. Italy expects swine flu to peak between December and January, with 1.5 million to 3 million cases. A vaccination campaign beginning Nov. 15 will immunize up to 40 percent of Italy's 60 million people.