Influenza epidemic continues, vaccine protection is fairly good

Publication date 19.2.2024 8.23 | Published in English on 19.2.2024 at 15.08
News item

The influenza epidemic is still ongoing in Finland. Influenza has been diagnosed in different parts of Finland and in people of all ages. However, the number of influenza findings reported to the National Infectious Diseases Register has decreased. The majority of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases are influenza A, but individual influenza B infections have also been reported.

"Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses are currently the predominant viruses, but the peak of the epidemic has now passed for them. However, based on health centre visits due to an influenza-like illness, influenza is still active throughout the country, and in some parts of Finland it is still highly common," says Niina Ikonen, Chief Specialist at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Vaccination coverage of older people and children remains unchanged

For the national vaccination programme, THL acquired 1.7 million doses of the injectable inactivated VaxigripTetra influenza vaccine for all age groups and 100,000 doses of live attenuated Fluenz Tetra nasal spray vaccine for 2–6-year-olds. A high-dose influenza vaccine has also been available in the private sector. 

By 10 February 2024, more than 1.7 million administered influenza vaccines were recorded in the National vaccination register. Of these, more than two thirds have been administered in the public sector. Not all administered vaccines are yet logged in the vaccination register due to occasional problems with data transfer.

According to the vaccination register, the influenza vaccination coverage was 30% in the entire population of Finland on 9 February 2024. The coverage varied somewhat in different age groups: it was 41% for children aged under 2 years, 29% for children between the ages of 2 and 6, 8% for school-aged children (7–17 years old), 22% for the working-age population (18–64 years), 60% for people aged 65–79, and 66% for people aged 80 and older.

"This level of vaccination coverage is well expected. In older age groups, the coverage has usually been reasonably high compared to younger age groups. The influenza vaccination campaign for the current season was targeted at the parents of young children, but no major changes have taken place in children’s vaccination coverage this season", says Hanna Nohynek, Chief Physician at THL.

The effectiveness of vaccines is fairly good

Once a sufficient number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases have been found, preliminary calculations of the effectiveness of vaccines can be made by combining register data. According to the data, the effectiveness of the influenza vaccines in use this season against laboratory-confirmed influenza in people aged 65 or over is fairly good, 54%. This age group comprises approximately 1.3 million people. In children aged under 7 years, the effectiveness is also fairly good, 45%. There are around 300,000 of them.

In influenza cases that led to hospitalization, the effectiveness of vaccines was slightly lower: 41% of those aged 65 or over, and slightly higher for those under 7, 63%.

"The effectiveness of influenza vaccines is as expected. Usually when the influenza A virus is the dominant virus, the effectiveness of the current vaccines is moderate, especially for older people, and the effectiveness declines as the season progresses. However, in children, the effectiveness of vaccines against influenza viruses has been and currently is fairly good and does not significantly weaken as the season progresses", Nohynek says.

The influenza season continues, so it is still advisable to take the vaccine if you have not yet received it during this season. The vaccine is free of charge for children, older people and other at-risk groups. The wellbeing services counties will inform you where to get the vaccination. 

More information

Influenza vaccine (THL)

Up-to-date influenza survey (THL, in Finnish)

What is influenza?  (THL, in Finnish)

Coverage of influenza vaccinations (THL, in Finnish)

Hanna Nohynek (vaccinations)
Chief Physician
[email protected] 

Niina Ikonen (influenza situation)
Chief Specialist
[email protected] 

Infektiotaudit ja rokotukset Main site influenssa rokotukset