Influenza epidemic expected to arrive in Finland next month
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recommends vaccination. Find out here if you are among the groups that can receive the vaccine for free.
The influenza epidemic in Finland has begun slowly than usual this winter, although influenza activity has been increasing in recent days, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (In Finnish Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos, THL).
The peak of the epidemic is expected in March, so there is still time to get vaccinated. THL recommends to get vaccinated as soon as possible, because it takes about two weeks for the protection to develop.
“This season influenza has progressed slowly. Based on our preliminary estimates, the effectiveness of the vaccine is reasonably good for older people and good for children. Its not too late to get vaccinated. Especially people aged 65 or over and those in the medical risk groups should still be vaccinated,” says Chief Physician Hanna Nohynek.
Until now, approximately 1.1 million doses of the influenza vaccine have been administered in public health care.
Who can get the vaccine for free?
Influenza viruses change constantly, so it is necessary to be vaccinated every year. The influenza vaccine is available free of charge for all:
- Those aged 65 and above.
- Children aged between 6 months and 6 years.
- Pregnant women.
- Those in risk groups because of their illness or treatment.
- Those in close contact to a person to whom influenza would pose a serious risk.
- Men starting their mandatory military service and women starting their voluntary military service.
- Social and health care and medical care personnel.
The vaccine will also be offered to persons who live for long periods or spend a lot of time in institutional conditions, including reception centres and prisons. Those entitled to a free vaccination can obtain it from their own health care centre, at a baby or maternity clinic.
THL also reminds that if a person or its close family members are not in the risk group, they can get a prescription from a physician, buy the vaccine in a pharmacy, and visit a health care centre to have it administered. The vaccine will also be available from private medical clinics. Some employers offer influenza vaccination to their employees, in which case it will be administered by the occupational health care services.
“Influenza is a serious illness which can cause severe secondary diseases. By getting vaccinated, you can prevent the spread of influenza and protect not only your own health but also your family and friends,” reminds Hanna Nohynek.
Infections reported everywhere in Finland
The number of influenza like illness has exceeded the epidemic threshold, but so far the number of infections is lower than in previous years. Statistics show that by 19 February 2020 approximately 6,500 people had contracted influenza A while about 1,000 people had contracted the influenza B virus.
“Influenza has been diagnosed in different parts of Finland and people of all ages, but there are regional differences in influenza activity. At the moment, influenza activity is high in North Karelia with moderate in the rest of Finland,” says Niina Ikonen, Senior Specialist at the THL.