Even as the New Year is about to begin, it's still not too late to get vaccinated against influenza in Finland, according to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
"By no means is it unnecessary or too late to get the jab," THL's influenza expert Niina Iknonen, told news service STT.
The health institute has noted, however, that it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to properly shield people from coming down with the flu.
The institute, which tracks influenza incidents across the country, said that it has already seen cases across all regions and age groups. However, at the moment influenza incidents are high only in the eastern region of North Karelia, with moderate flu levels in the regions of Southwest Finland, Satakunta, southern Ostrobothnia, South Savo and Lapland.
In all other regions influenza levels were still low, according to THL. Some health care districts have already said they've reached epidemic levels, but the health authority said criteria for a flu epidemic at the national level have not yet been reached.
About half of Finland's flu vaccines used so far
"Some hospital districts say they've seen more cases now compared to last year but last season was exceptionally mild," Ikonen said, saying that the flu was in full swing by the fourth week of 2019.
"I believe that when all the data is updated in the first week (of 2020), influenza will probably exceed the epidemic threshold," Ikonen explained.
As of the end of last week, around 900,000 people had received the flu vaccine so far this season. THL has acquired a total of about 1.7 million flu jabs, as well as nearly 120,000 nasal spray vaccines meant for youngsters between the ages of 2-6.
According to THL estimates, around half of people who are exposed to influenza viruses come down with the disease, which includes varying symptoms of high fever, muscle aches and headache. Additionally, flu patients can suffer from coughs, stuffy noses and sore throats.
Ikonen said that, after getting the jab, practicing good hand hygiene is the best way for people to shield themselves from influenza.