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Swine flu pandemia in Finland – Influenssa A (H1N1)v iski Suomeen

Swine flu pandemia in Finland – Influenssa A (H1N1)v iski Suomeen

Strange times we’re living through, indeed, folks…
Having just recovered from the bird flu panic moods, we arrive from a rock at yet another hard place.

Pandemrix - source: www.lapinkansa.fi

Pandemrix - source: www.lapinkansa.fi

Swine flu pandemia is said to burst out in Suomi, and according to Vasabladet this week it arrived in Vaasa as well. The illness stroke at Vaasa’s Central School (Keskuskoulu) where approximately 151 pupils of 380 are down with fever and other typical symptoms. This makes for 40% of the total school population. It is also reported that the neighboring Seinäjoki is currently experiencing the same kind of problem.

EMEA approved swine flu vaccine named Pandemrix is to be used to fight the pandemia in Finland. Medics and social workers have already been vaccinated. Vaccination for other elevated risk groups including pregnant women, heart and lung disease patients up to 64 yrs old, and kids aged 6 months to 6 yrs is launching this week in Vaasa and will continue till 11.12. Seasonal flu vaccine injections will be given simultaneously if the person so wishes. Both swine flu and seasonal flu vaccination is done on voluntary basis.

The order of vaccination for other selected groups is as follows:
– healthy people aged 3-24 yrs and those in military service;
– people over 65 yrs old whose risk is associated with their illnesses.

What will be done (and IF will be done) to prevent swine flu with other Finnish strata is unknown yet.
Source: http://www.vaasa.fi/Link.aspx?id=1134626 (in Finnish).

Pandemrix by GlaxoSmithKline is an inactivated (“dead”) vaccine made from the A-H1N1/09 seed virus provided by the World Health Organization in the same process and using the same ingredients as they make the vaccine they have developed for the Avian [Bird] Flu H5N1, they have just substituted the H1N1/09 virus in place of the H5N1 virus. It is designed for administration as an intramuscular injection (Wiki).

A detailed description is available under the following links:
http://www.emea.europa.eu/humandocs/PDFs/EPAR/pandemrix/emea-combined-h832fi.pdf (in English).
http://www.helsedirektoratet.no/vp/multimedia/archive/00248/Russisk_-_Kort_publ_248529a.pdf (in Russian).

The side effects of the vaccine include muscular pain and inflammation in the place of injection (that sometimes may last for several days), light fever, tiredness, headaches, and allergic reactions (to egg albumen component, for instance). The immunity to H1N1 is said to develop in a couple of weeks after receiving the vaccine. The objective of risk groups vaccination is not prevention of swine flu itself (which is supposedly not more dangerous than any seasonal flu that however manages to kill patients during outbreaks every year) but its dramatic consequences, such as pneumonia and other effects that the swine flu may have on people in presence of pre-existing/chronic diseases and weakened immunity.

Totally, 5 285 500 doses of Pandemrix have been ordered by Finland from the vaccine manufacturer. If necessary, this amount should be enough for all persons residing in Finland permanently or temporarily. Travelers have been excluded to prevent “vaccination tourism ”from abroad.

However, the latest news say that children below 9 yrs of age might need 2 portions of vaccine to ensure their resistance to H1N1. This is an open issue and will most probably give another rise to emotional arguments in the Finnish media, since Finns have quite a lot of objections to the measures taken, such as late arrival of vaccine, its short testing history, presence of Tiormesal (a mercury product) in the vaccine, and remarkable difference in approaches and opinions on vaccination in countries other than Finland (for instance, U.S. and Switzerland).

Medication prescribed to those already down with the swine flu includes CDC approved oseltavimir and zanamivir known commercially as Tamiflu and Relenza.

Sources: sikainfluenssa.fi, thl.fi, vaasa.fi, vaasalaisia.info, hs.fi

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