Finland becomes first country to start bird flu vaccines for humans

Finland is set to become the first country globally to offer preemptive bird flu vaccines to certain workers exposed to animals, starting as early as next week, health authorities said Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The Nordic nation has procured vaccines for 10,000 individuals, each requiring two doses, through a collaborative EU purchase of up to 40 million doses for 15 countries from the manufacturer CSL Seqirus.

The decision to start providing bird flu vaccines reflects fears that people in close contact with infected animals could contract the H5N1 virus themselves.

“The vaccine will be offered to those aged 18 or over who are at increased risk of contracting avian influenza due to their work or other circumstances,” the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said in a statement.

According to Reuters, THL stated that Finland has not detected the virus in humans. However, due to the transmission risks associated with its fur farms, the country is keen to initiate vaccinations.

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is an infectious viral disease that primarily affects birds but can also infect humans and other animals. The disease is caused by strains of the influenza virus, particularly types A and H5N1, H7N9, and H5N8.