Influenza season is about to begin – working population most at risk of falling ill

Influenza cases are steadily multiplying in Finland and are expected to exceed the epidemic threshold during January. The dominant virus types of the seasonal influenza outbreak in the rest of Europe and the USA are two influenza A viruses, and A(H1N1), a descendant of the swine flu, in particular has been widespread. The other subtype of the A virus, A(H3N2), has also been observed.

When A(H1N1) is the dominant virus type, young and middle aged adults are the most likely to catch the virus. Most of those who fall ill have underlying illnesses but even those who are basically healthy have become seriously ill. Those who avoided swine flu during the 2009 outbreak have not developed immunity to the swine flu descendant and will catch it more easily. When the other A virus, A(H3N2), is dominant, particularly the elderly and those with underlying illnesses will fall ill.

It is not too late to get vaccinated

The National Immunisation Programme will now, for the first time, use a more comprehensive, quadrivalent influenza vaccine which protects against the four influenza viruses circulating. According to experiences received elsewhere, the vaccination seems to be effective against both A viruses and especially against the swine flu descendant.

It is not too late to get vaccinated. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect and the vaccine will still be available during the epidemic. Those entitled to the seasonal influenza vaccine free of charge include adults over the age of 65, people with a long-term illness, pregnant women, children under the age of 7 and social and health care personnel. Basically healthy people in close contact with risk groups can also receive the influenza vaccination free of charge. Other people can get the vaccination at their own expense or through their occupational health care paid for by their employer. It is a good idea for basically healthy people to be vaccinated to indirectly protect friends and family with weaker immune systems.

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