Many 50-year-olds in Finland lack immunity against significant diseases

The MMR vaccine, which provides immunity against mumps, rubella and measles was added to the National Immunisation Programme in 1982. People who were born in the late 1960s and early 1970s, who are now entering their fifties, are likely to have never received this vaccination. However, those who were born in the early 1960s are likely to have had these diseases, which makes them immune.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare recommends that people get this vaccination because the infections can easily be acquired even on a European holiday trip. Finland is the first country in the world to have eradicated these diseases, but some of them, such as measles, are still found in countries such as France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Romania. Mumps and rubella are also found in several Central European countries.

Having previously had one of these diseases is not an obstacle to being vaccinated. There is no risk of overdose. The vaccine is included in the National Immunisation Programme and available free of charge from health centres. These days, children receive the MMR dose at child health clinics at approximately one year of age, followed by a booster shot at the age of six.

Dangerous and unpleasant diseases

Measles is highly contagious and has significant sequelae. The symptoms are high fever and a rash. The sequelae can include pneumonia, ear infection and, in rare cases, inflammation of the brain.

Rubella is particularly dangerous to pregnant women. The virus harms the fetus and can lead to disabilities. The disease is characterised by flu-like symptoms and a full-body rash.

Mumps can cause testicular inflammation in men, which can lead to infertility. The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, lack of appetite and pain when swallowing. 

Sources

  • YLE (in Finnish)