The influenza epidemic is underway throughout Finland. The samples taken from patients indicate that the types of viruses making the rounds are very similar to those in the vaccine (AH1N1pdm09, AH3N2 and the B virus), which means that the seasonal influenza vaccine provides good protection against infection.
The majority of the cases seen this flu season have involved the swine flu virus (AH1N1pdm09), which has previously caused severe symptoms even to young people and healthy adults. People can still get the influenza vaccination even though the flu season is already underway. The AH3N2 and B viruses are likely to spread later in the winter and early spring, and the vaccine also offers protection against these strains. It takes a couple of weeks for immunity to develop.
People who are in risk groups and their household contacts and carers can get the vaccination free of charge from health centres. Health centres administer the vaccine free of charge to children under three years of age, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women, people with illnesses that make them vulnerable to severe influenza, and the household contacts and carers of the above. For other people, the vaccine is subject to a charge. People are advised to check the local practices from the website of their health centre or private medical centre.