Changes to the national vaccination programme – life-threatening cases of tetanus in Finland are very rare

The tetanus vaccination booster interval has been lengthened from 10 years to 20 years in adults of working age. Tetanus has become very rare in Finland and average anti-tetanus antibody levels in the Finnish population are high. Only one or two serious cases have occurred in each year of this millennium, all of them in people over 65 years of age. People over the age of 65 should continue to get the booster at ten-year intervals.

Approximately one million cases of tetanus are estimated to occur worldwide each year. Tetanus is caused by a bacterium that lives in soil and can produce a neurotoxin when introduced into a wound. The latest Finnish tetanus cases were attributed to wounds from the thorn of a rose, a dog bite and a bicycling accident.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare recommends getting boosters in round-numbered years that are easier to remember, e.g. at 25, 45 and 65 years of age. In future, the first booster for adults will be administered at 25 years of age as part of a combination vaccine that also protects against pertussis (whooping cough).

Other changes to the national vaccination programme

  • Six-year-olds will now be offered an MMRV combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella as well as varicella (chickenpox). The use of this new combination vaccine will reduce the number of injections that six-year-olds receive.
  • Vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis will now be offered in more areas. In addition to Åland, Simo and Pargas, the vaccination will be available this year to residents and summer residents of southern Kemi, the Kotka archipelago, Sammonlahti in Lappeenranta and Preiskari in Raahe.

References:

  • THL (in Finnish)
  • HS (in Finnish)