Eeva Ruotsalainen, an associate professor and HUS's assistant chief physician, has appealed to the Finns so that the citizens also remember protecting themselves from the flu in coronary artery disease.

- This year, everyone over the age of 65 who is at risk due to their illness or medication and their primary health is close: take the flu vaccine!

"Taking the vaccine is now extremely important, as the combination of corona and influenza can cause a very serious illness," the Swede said in an IS case on Friday.

  • Read more: Finnish doctor warns of double infection: “The combination of corona and influenza can cause a very serious illness”

According to the Swede, the prevention of influenza is also important because hospitals would not be filled with influenza patients in addition to coronary patients.

Chief Physician Hanna Nohynek from the Department of Health and Welfare's THL Infectious Diseases Prevention and Vaccinations Unit does not dare to assess at this stage what kind of influenza season is coming to Finland.

- You can't know that yet.

It depends, among other things, on the amount of travel and other normal factors of seasonal influenza, such as virus transformation and the equivalence of viruses and vaccine antigens.

- Currently, the situation in the northern hemisphere is very calm.

No influenza virus has yet been detected in Finland.

Influenza prevention is important so that hospitals are not filled with influenza patients in addition to coronary patients. Photo: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Indications of Finland's upcoming flu season can be found in the southern hemisphere, which is already coming to an end.

There, the season has been very mild.

However, according to Nohynek, this is likely due to robust corona control measures such as limited travel, minimization of contact, and improved coughing and hand hygiene practices.

Individual influenza observations usually occur in Finland as early as the autumn, but the season typically starts more strongly around the turn of the year.

The peak is often in February.

- This season has so many different factors that make the season unpredictable that I dare not predict.

According to Nohynek, the biggest question mark about the flu epidemic is what is happening to corona control measures.

- If they continue to be pregnant, ie do not travel, do not meet others and protect themselves with masks, other respiratory diseases will not be able to spread and the season will be mild.

But when efforts are made to alleviate these, the flu can also spread.

"Then you can think that the season can become more boring"

It is not yet known which types of viruses will prevail in Finland this season.

Influenza epidemics are caused by influenza A and B major viruses.

Of the A virus subtypes, epidemics are caused by A (H3N2) and swine flu progeny virus A (H1N1).

According to Nohynek, in the southern hemisphere, the type of power during the past flu season has been A (H3N2), but a modified A (H1N1) has also been observed there.

There has been little B virus in circulation.

- In the southern hemisphere, a new variant of the old swine flu A (H1N1) has been found in the past season.

If it were going to be our main virus, then our vaccine might not be as well protected from it.

Then one might think that the season can become more tedious.

- If that transformed A (H1N1) is allowed to spread, it can also cause more serious disease in younger people than usual.

Again, A (H3N2) is usually severe in older people.

A man getting the flu vaccine on Monday, October 19. Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Such is the flu vaccine this season

The World Health Organization (WHO) makes a recommendation to the Northern Hemisphere on the composition of the vaccine each year in February.

The virus strain is different each season, and the virus strains that are most likely to cause the flu are selected for the vaccine.

The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in this year’s national vaccine program cannot yet be said.

For example, the influenza that struck Finland a few years ago was mainly of the B / Yamagata virus type.

However, the vaccine selected for the national vaccine program at that time did not fully protect against that virus.

A so-called tetravalent influenza vaccine is in use this season.

- Compared to last season's vaccine, both A virus strains and the other B virus strain have been switched for this period to better match the vaccine that is expected to circulate during this period.

- The four-virus vaccine is the widest possible vaccine on the market.

Nohynek says it is normally expected that the protection of the vaccine is 60 percent or more in children, in the elderly it can remain at 30 percent.

In adults, the protection is about 40-70 percent.

Vaccine protection develops in two weeks.

The recommended date for taking the influenza vaccine is November, no later than December.

- We hope to take as many vaccines as possible in order to avoid double infections and concomitant epidemics and to sustain the carrying capacity of healthcare.

This season, the so-called tetravalent influenza vaccine is in use, says THL's chief physician Hanna Nohynek. Photo: Mara Leppä