Occupational health services commence vaccinations against swine flu
A measure of apathy has replaced earlier panic and long queues
Vaccinations of the bulk of the Finnish population against swine flu will commence in earnest in the coming weeks in various parts of the country.
Many of those of working age will receive the jab at their occupational health centres. For example in Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa employers have enquired enthusiastically of the possibility of having their workers vaccinated through the occupational health services.
“Private occupational health services have been very interested in helping out”, says chief surgeon Kirsi Savolainen from Vantaa.
For example at the Helsinki clinics of the private hospital chain Mehiläinen the vaccinations on a larger scale will gradually commence starting next week, says unit director Johanna Asklöf.
Some of the jabs will be given at the Mehiläinen clinics, but some companies would prefer a public health nurse to visit the company to inoculate the workers against the H1N1 virus.
On Monday the vaccinations of the general population will also commence at the Helsinki health centres.
In Espoo and Vantaa the vaccinations will start at the turn of January-February.
The occupational health sector will commence the inoculations around the same time.
The occupational health centres can also give jabs to residents of other municipalities. The health officials of the person’s municipality of domicile just have to be informed.
If one does not get the jab through the occupational health services, it must be obtained from one’s municipality of residence.
The Finns’ eagerness to get vaccinated against the swine flu has faded together with the first wave of the illness.
Back in November, long queues formed as at-risk sections of the population hurried to get cover against the flu amidst news of deaths among persons with an underlying mediacal condition.
According to doctors, it still makes sense to take the jab, although the peak of infections has long since passed.
“People buy their holiday trips half a year in advance. The same kind of preparation should be exercised in this case as well”, says City of Helsinki epidemiologist Hannele Kotilainen.
“The jab will protect against the second wave of the illness.”
“Typically influenzas come in waves that last for a couple of months”, says chief surgeon Markku Kuusi from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
“When a large enough portion of the population has contracted the illness it will fade away, but later it will return in one form or another.”
Hitherto, vaccinations have been for special risk groups and for the young, under the age of 24. Now the larger bulk of the population can get their shots, with 25-34-year-olds the first in line in Helsinki from January 11th. The 35-44-year-olds follow in the week beginning January 18th, and so on.
Espoo has not set firm dates as yet, but will begin the mass inoculations from the beginning of February.
Vantaa has announced mass inoculations will be given in four locations from February 3rd onwards.
Finland still intends to buy in H1N1 vaccine for the entire population, even though a good many European countries are currently cancelling some of their orders.
The overall cost of 5.28 million shots is of the order of EUR 37 million.
France is one case where orders have been cancelled on a large scale. The country initially ordered 94 million doses for the country's population of roughly 65 million, in the belief that two jabs might be necessary to provide protection in some cases. However, only around 5 million vaccinations have been given thus far.
Germany, Switzerland, and Spain have also reduced their orders.
Any leftover vaccine in Finland can either be stored for possible seasonal epidemics to come or can be donated to developing countries.
The hope is that people will in any event take the opportunity to get protection against a second wave of the illness.
Previously in HS International Edition:
No change in vaccination schedule over swine flu deaths (5.11.2009)
Swine flu spreading in south of Finland (4.11.2009)
Oulu swine flu death not affecting scheduling of H1N1 vaccine (27.10.2009)
Swine flu shots found to cause mild symptoms of disease (22.10.2009)
Swine flu vaccination programme to keep local authorities busy in coming months (21.9.2009)
Swine flu epidemic peaking in Southern Finland (19.11.2009)
National Institute for Health and Welfare: Swine flu vaccine