Vaccines Work seminar: half of Finns are unaware of when they should get vaccine boosters

The Reliable information on vaccines project organised Vaccines Work, a morning seminar for media and journalists at the Pharmaceutical Information Centre on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 as part of the WHO European Immunisation Week 2017 event. The seminar featured two expert talks and the publication of the results of a population survey.

Health economist Heini Salo from the Department of Vaccines and Immune Protection at the National Institute for Health and Welfare gave a talk on the cost-effectiveness of the vaccines added to the National Immunisation Programme. The current vaccines in the National Immunisation Programme pay themselves back many times over. The vaccines produce €72 million in savings in health care costs.

Professor of pediatric infectious diseases Harri Saxén from HUS talked about the reasons why a child may be left unvaccinated and what the potential consequences are. Saxén explained that opposition to vaccines is nothing new: it was already discussed in Duodecim magazine back in 1914. He suggested that anti-vaccine attitudes are particularly influenced by the lack of information as well as opinions and beliefs expressed by people on the internet. The bottom line is that the effectiveness of vaccines is indisputable: the rotavirus vaccine, for example, has practically eradicated a disease involving diarrhoea and vomiting that is dangerous to young children.

In the open discussion that followed the talk, it was suggested that one reason for the increase in vaccine skepticism is the low incidence of the diseases in question. When people have no experience of these diseases among their family and acquaintances, they stop being concerned about many dangerous diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.

The seminar concluded with the publication of the results of a new survey that revealed that half of all Finns are unaware of when they should get vaccine boosters, and they often do not have up-to-date vaccination cards. According to the interpretation of Research Manager Sirkku Keski-Hallila from the market research company Taloustutkimus, an estimated 44–74% of Finns have up-to-date immunisations. More details on the results of the survey are available in the official release on the Pharmaceutical Information Centre website (in Finnish).