Every year, approximately 5–15 per cent of the population suffer from seasonal influenza. Taking an influenza vaccine every year provides the most effective protection against a seasonal influenza epidemic. However, it is important to remember that the vaccination provides protection against the disease caused by influenza viruses but does not work on viruses that cause ordinary flu or cold.
In Finland, the influenza vaccination is included in the general vaccination programme under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Decree 421/2004. Pursuant to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Decree 448/2007, an annual influenza vaccination is given free of charge to all those whose health would be materially affected by influenza, or whose health will benefit materially from the vaccination. The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) decides which vaccinations are used each year, and specifies the target groups on the basis of the recommendations made by the national vaccine specialist group.
Those not included in the group entitled to free vaccines will also benefit from taking the vaccine. In this case, you will need a prescription for the vaccine from your doctor, and buy it from a pharmacy. A number of employers provide employees with an influenza vaccine as part of occupational health care services.
In the autumn-winter season 2018–2019, seasonal influenza vaccinations will be provided free of charge to:
- Social and health care providers and pharmaceutical services providers
- Pregnant women
- Everyone aged 65 or over
- Children aged 6 months - 6 years
- Persons at risk due to an existing medical condition or treatment
- Persons in frequent contact with those predisposed to severe influenza
- Men completing mandatory and women completing voluntary military service
It is important to identify and actively encourage people at medical risk to get vaccinated, as they are more likely to develop severe influenza, or the influenza may worsen their pre-existing conditions with possibly fatal consequences. A public health nurse, nurse or doctor can determine whether you are entitled to be vaccinated free of charge.