This year the National Immunisation Programme will use a more comprehensive, quadrivalent influenza vaccine that protects against four types of virus. The Immunisation Programme includes an influenza vaccine administered as a nasal spray vaccine (children aged 2-6) and as an injectable vaccine, which both provide more comprehensive protection than last year’s vaccine.
About 800,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Finland so far this year and according to the national vaccination register maintained by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) there are still plenty left. THL monitors the incidence of influenza viruses in Finland by examining specimens of discharge from respiratory tracts collected at outpatient clinic sentinel sites and hospitals’ intensive care units. According to THL’s latest influenza surveillance, only a few influenza cases have been diagnosed so far so the actual influenza season has not officially started yet. The epidemic usually starts at the beginning of the year, so now is the time to have your vaccination if you have not already had it.
Under the National Immunisation Programme those entitled to the influenza vaccine free of charge are children under the age of 7, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, people starting military service and people of any age who are in a risk group due to an underlying medical condition. Those in close contact with a person to whom exposure to influenza would pose a serious risk are also entitled to the influenza vaccine free of charge.
Those entitled to a free vaccination can get immunized at their own health centre. If you are not entitled to a free vaccination, your employer may pay for you to get vaccinated at your occupational health care services, or you can get vaccinated at a private medical centre or your own health centre at your own expense. You must buy the vaccine in a pharmacy with a prescription if you want to have it administered at your health centre. School children and students can book an appointment for a vaccination at their own school or student health service nurse.