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Finland adds chicken pox vaccine to national inoculation programme

Finnish health authorities have added the chicken pox jab to the national vaccine programme. It will be offered to children between the ages of 18 months and 11 years from next autumn.

Vesirokkorokote.
Vesirokkorokote on tarjolla kaikille lapsille ensi syksynä. Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

The addition of a chicken pox vaccine to the national inoculation programme could see the typically childhood disease eradicated from Finland in the near future.

Officials estimate that a comprehensive programme of vaccination could root out the virus in Finland in two to three years.

In a full parliamentary sitting on Wednesday, Finnish MPs voted to fund the programme in its 2017 budget proposal.

According to initial schedules, the vaccinations will begin next autumn. It will be provided to all children between the ages of 18 months and 11 years, who have not already had the disease.

In addition to preventing physical discomfort in patients who come down with chicken pox, the vaccine will save an estimated 16 million euros in societal costs and will reduce the time parents take off from work caring for ailing children by 76,000 days.

Vaccine introduced to combat tick-borne encephalitis

Health officials have also decided to expand the programme for a vaccine to combat tick-borne encephalitis. The municipalities of Parainen in the southwestern archipelago and Simo in Lapland will begin administering the vaccine from next spring. It will be offered to all children from the age of three as well as their parents.

It is estimated that the anti-encephalitis vaccine programme will help reduce health care costs. Tick-borne encephalitis can cause respiratory paralysis, requiring the permanent use of a ventilator. The cost of such treatment may reach up to 100,000 euros annually per patient.

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