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New decree on vaccinations enters into force on 13 March 2017

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 10.3.2017 9.22
Press release 34/2017

The Ministry of Social Affairs has issued a new Vaccinations Decree. It introduces provisions on the varicella vaccine, which is now included in the national vaccination programme, and on extending the vaccinations against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) to the municipalities of Simo and Parainen as well as to conscripts serving in at-risk areas.

Vaccinations are voluntary in Finland, even for people working in the healthcare and social welfare sectors. However, the new Infectious Diseases Act obligates the employer to ensure that employees have valid vaccination coverage if they work with people in at-risk groups who are susceptible to infectious diseases.

Varicella vaccine included in the national vaccination programme

Varicella (chickenpox) vaccinations of 18-month-old infants and 6-year-old children are added to the national vaccination programme. The second dose of the vaccine would be administered within six years of the first dose. All children up to the age of 11 years who have not yet had varicella will receive one dose of the varicella vaccine the first year the vaccine is part of the vaccination programme. Those who are 5 years old or younger at the time the vaccine was included in the vaccination programme will be administered the second dose once they turn 6 years old. Children who are 6–11 years old at the time of the first dose will get their second dose once they turn 12 years old.

The vaccine protects against severe forms of varicella which in adults especially may require hospital treatment. It also gives protection against complications of varicella, such as pneumonia, encephalitis and bacterial skin infections.

Employees and students are vaccinated depending on their duties

The varicella vaccine is also available for persons who work in client and patient facilities in healthcare and social welfare units and for students who are training in such facilities if they have not had the disease. Persons working with infants are also vaccinated against pertussis. Municipalities will organise these vaccinations starting on 1 September 2017.

Seasonal influenza vaccine is available even in future for persons taking part in the immediate care or treatment of clients or patients.

People in Simo and Parainen eligible for TBE vaccine

The TBE vaccine is currently available free of charge for residents in the Åland Islands. The new decree extends this eligibility even to residents in the municipalities of Simo and Parainen as well as to visitors staying more than four weeks in these municipalities. This means that around 30,000 people would be covered by the TBE vaccine.

Conscripts in military service get comprehensive eligibility to vaccinations

Conscripts in military service and women in voluntary military service can get vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, meningococcal disease, influenza, measles, mumps and rubella. The TBE vaccine will be available for those serving in at-risk areas.

The decree will enter into force on 13 March 2017, and it will be valid until further notice. The section on the TBE vaccine will be valid until the end of 2020.

Inquiries:

Liisa Katajamäki, Ministerial Counsellor for Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 63329
Anni-Riitta Virolainen Julkunen, Ministerial Counsellor for Medical Affairs, tel. +358 295 63324
Sari Ekholm, Senior Medical Officer, tel. +358 295 63447