Finland Becomes First Country in the World To Start Bird Flu Vaccinations for Humans

The total EU procurement plan aims for up to 40 million doses across 15 countries.

AP/Anja Niedringhaus
The logo of the World Health Organization. AP/Anja Niedringhaus

Finland is set to become the first country worldwide to begin vaccinating humans against bird flu, health officials announced on Tuesday.

Starting next week, Finland will offer preemptive bird flu vaccines to select laborers who are regularly exposed to animals. This initiative is part of a broader EU strategy, which includes the acquisition of vaccines for 10,000 individuals, each requiring two doses. The total EU procurement plan aims for up to 40 million doses across 15 countries.

CSL Seqirus, an Australian pharmaceutical company, developed the vaccines and confirmed that Finland will be the pioneer in administering them.

“The vaccine will be provided to those aged 18 and above who are at a higher risk of contracting avian influenza due to their occupation or other circumstances,” the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said, according to the Express.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has led to the deaths of millions of poultry globally in recent years and has recently begun affecting cattle in America and occasionally, humans. Finland, which has not yet reported human cases of the virus, is taking proactive measures due to the high transmission risks associated with its numerous fur farms.

Last year, Finland witnessed significant bird flu outbreaks among mink and foxes on its fur farms, resulting in the culling of around 485,000 animals to prevent further spread.

The vaccination program will target laborers in fur and poultry farms, laboratory technicians handling bird flu samples, and veterinarians involved in animal control near fur farms. Additionally, individuals working in wildlife sanctuaries, livestock farms, and premise cleaning will be offered the vaccine.

The New York Sun

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