The vaccine protects against the seasonal influenza. According to the authorities it prevents the majority of influenza cases among working-age people and up to a half of those among old people.The influenza epidemic has not yet reached Finland.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare has only received information on single cases, so it is not yet a case of an epidemic.

There is still time to get the influenza shot.

“Our recommendation is to give shots for as long as we have them and as long as it makes sense to give them in terms of the epidemic,” says Senior Physician Hanna Nohynek from the Institute.

“Even if an epidemic was raging, the vaccine is worth taking, for it won’t make it all around Finland. It takes almost two weeks for the protection to be completed.”

There are many types of flu at this time of year. The origin of the actual flu epidemic varies each year. Sometimes the epidemic starts before the changing of the year, but usually not before the beginning of the year.

“Europe has not seen a significant increase in the number of cases. Instead, North America is currently witnessing an influenza season. One should be alert at the change of the year, for it will soon reach us as well,” warns Senior Physician Antti Kuusi from the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

Kuusi cannot say for certain whether the mild winter affects the disease’s incidence. Sometimes it has been noted in Finland that the influenza season begins as the weather becomes significantly colder.

“But we cannot generalise with this, either,” Kuusi says.

Kuusi reminds that it is important to look after an adequate supply of Vitamin D, which improves the immune system.

According to Kuusi the norovirus is currently less common than it was during the same time last year. Noro is the typical wintertime stomach flu.

In terms of rotavirus, which causes diarrhoea among children in particular, the situation is rather sedate. Kuusi tells that the incidence of the disease clearly decreased when the rota vaccine was included in the national vaccination program four years ago.

Minna Pölkki - HS
Annika Rautakoura - HT
Jarno Mela / LEHTIKUVA