Influenza vaccine

The influenza vaccine gives protection against influenza and its secondary diseases, including ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia as well as myocardial infarction and cerebral circulation disorders.
Vaccine-preventable diseases

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To whom is the influenza vaccine administered?

A free influenza vaccine is available as part of the national vaccination programme to those for whom influenza is an essential health risk, or who gain significant health benefits from the vaccination. Groups entitled to a free influenza vaccination are

  • pregnant women
  • everyone aged 65 and over
  • children aged under 7
  • those belonging to at-risk groups because of an illness or treatment
  • those close to a person susceptible to serious influenza
  • part of social welfare, healthcare and medical care personnel
  • men starting their military service and women starting their voluntary military service

Persons who live or stay for long periods in institutional conditions, including prisons and reception centres, are also entitled to a free vaccination.

Where are influenza vaccines available? 

If you are entitled to a free influenza vaccination, you can get it at your local health centre. Health centres provide information about where and when vaccinations are available in their areas

Some employers offer the vaccination to their employees, in which case it will be administered by the occupational health care services. 

If you are not entitled to a free influenza vaccination, you can ask for a prescription, purchase the vaccine at a pharmacy and visit your local health centre to have it administered. You can also get the vaccination at a private medical centre.

Which vaccines are used?

A number of influenza vaccines are available in the market. The vaccines for the national vaccination programme are selected in an open tendering process. 

Influenza vaccine in season 2023–2024 

During the influenza season 2023–2024, the vaccination programme offers

The World Health Organization WHO selects annually the virus strains most likely to cause influenza for the vaccine based on the monitoring data obtained from different countries.

Two strains of A virus and two B virus strains have been used to make the vaccine. 

One A virus strain has been replaced since the previous season. 

What are the benefits of the influenza vaccine?

The vaccine gives the best protection against influenza. It will not protect you against a common cold. 

The influenza vaccine reduces

  • deaths, hospitalisations and need for institutional treatment caused by influenza
  • prevalence of serious influenza
  • secondary diseases, including ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and myocardial infarctions as well cerebral circulation disorders
  • influenza infections: when you do not fall ill, you cannot infect others

How effective is the protection afforded by influenza vaccines?

The effectiveness of influenza vaccines varies from one season to another. The majority of those who have the vaccine avoid influenza. If a vaccination recipient contracts influenza, the disease is usually milder and they recover faster. 

The protection given by the influenza vaccine lasts for approximately one year.

Many factors affect its effectiveness, including 

  • the viruses which are causing outbreaks in each season
  • the match between the vaccine viruses and those causing outbreaks 
  • the properties of the vaccine, including adjuvants
  • vaccine recipient’s ability to develop protection. The age, chronic illnesses and pharmaceuticals used by the vaccine recipient also affect the effectiveness of protection.

What are the potential adverse effects of the influenza vaccine?

All vaccines may have adverse effects, but they are usually transient and only occur in a small proportion of the vaccine recipients. 

After the administration of an injectable influenza vaccine, the injection site may be red and tender. A child’s nose may be blocked and runny after the administration of a nasal spray vaccine.

What are the potential adverse effects of the influenza vaccine?

History of the influenza vaccine in the national vaccination programme 

Influenza vaccines have been administered as part of the national vaccination programme in Finland since the 1980s.