According to the National Infectious Diseases Register maintained by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), 16 cases of measles were diagnosed in Finland in 2018. In the previous year, 11 cases were reported.
The increase in cases of measles reflects the epidemic situation in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Many of the measles infections that arrived in Finland were contracted abroad and mainly spread within families. The greatest risk for a wider epidemic was in Ostrobothnia, as it is an area with low vaccine coverage. However, rapid and effective preventive measures meant that an epidemic did not occur.
Vaccine reduced chickenpox infections in children
The chickenpox vaccine was included in the National Vaccination Programme in autumn 2017. The vaccine has been offered to all children up to the age of 11. As a result, the circulation of the virus in the population has decreased, which has also reduced the number of health service visits made because of chickenpox.
A total of 453 severe cases of chickenpox and herpes zoster caused by the varicella-zoster virus were reported to the National Infectious Diseases Register in 2018, which is consistent with previous years. Of all the cases, only 6% were diagnosed in under 5-year-olds, whereas 42% were diagnosed in over 65-year-olds.