Children’s and young people’s vaccinations
The national vaccination programme includes vaccinations against many infectious diseases. Vaccinations are available to everyone under the age of 18.
Vaccinations protect against infectious diseases. In the days before vaccinations were given, these diseases were some of the main causes of death among children. They also killed expectant mothers and other adults. In addition to giving protection against infectious diseases, vaccination also protects against tetanus which used to be fatal to many people.
Vaccinations do not necessarily give complete protection, but they do give long-term resistance. When most of the population is vaccinated, the children who have not yet had their vaccinations are also better protected.
As a result of vaccinations, smallpox has been eliminated worldwide. Vaccination has almost entirely eliminated diphtheria, polio, meningitis caused by HIB bacteria, epiglottitis, and sepsis as well as measles, rubella and mumps.
There are 11 vaccinations for children and young people in the national programme. In addition, girls are offered an HPV vaccination that protects against many cancers caused by papilloma viruses.
The vaccinations that are intended for everybody provide protection against infantile diarrhoea, meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis, ear inflammation, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, epiglottitis, measles, mumps, rubella, influenza and chickenpox.
Some of the vaccinations give protection against several different diseases. Vaccinations that are included in the national vaccination programme are free.
Babies are given their first vaccinations at the maternity clinic at the age of two months. During the year, babies are given vaccinations three times against infantile diarrhoea, pneumococcal meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and ear infection.
A combination vaccine is given three times. The vaccine gives protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Hib diseases. These are meningitis, epiglottitis and sepsis.
Small children are given the influenza vaccination at the age of 6-35 months during the winter periods. During their second year, toddlers receive the MMR vaccine which protects them against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccination is given again when children are six years old.
Between the ages of one and a half and eleven, children are given a chickenpox vaccination if they have not had chickenpox before the time due for the vaccination. Four year olds are given a booster vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio. The first three of these are vaccinated against again when a young person is 14-15 years old.
No. Being vaccinated is always voluntary. Permission for vaccinations is requested from parents when children who are not yet able to decide for themselves are offered vaccinations. Take-up of vaccinations under the vaccination programme in Finland is quite high as very few people refuse to bring their children to be vaccinated. Because of what is known as community immunity, it is important that all or almost all children are vaccinated. When a sufficiently large proportion of the population have been vaccinated and are resistant to the disease, then those that have not been vaccinated have a greater probability of not falling ill. Community immunity requires a larger coverage of vaccination, the most infectious the disease is. For example to protect against measles, a 95 per cent vaccination coverage is required.
If the coverage of a certain vaccination is insufficient in an area, groups of non- vaccinated children who are susceptible to the disease can form in nursery schools and schools and epidemics are then a possibility.
The school health care service always checks that the children have been vaccinated in the clinic. If a child or young person is missing some childhood vaccinations, they can be given at school.
Information about vaccinations is recorded in an electronic patient data system and a parent or guardian can ask to see the information held there. Vaccinations are also entered onto a childhood health card and, if necessary, onto an international health card.
The vaccination entries also say in what part of the body the vaccination was given. This information is necessary if previous vaccinations have led to a child having symptoms.
The HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer and its predecessors. In addition, it can prevent some vaginal and vulvar cancers, head and neck cancers and anal cancers. Vaccinations are given to girls in year five. Vaccinations that are administered early give a better guarantee that protective antibodies will be produced than if it is administered later.
Those in risk groups and those resident in risk areas are entitled to vaccinations for tuberculosis, pneumococcal infection, influenza, tick-borne encephalitis and hepatitis free of charge.
The influenza vaccine is given to infants and small children (from 6 months to 6 years of age).
Everyone over the age of 3 is vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis free of charge if they live or spend a long time in an area where the risk of tick-borne encephalitis is high. In addition to Åland, Parainen and Simo, these areas include The Sammonlahti area of Lappeenranta, the southern parts of Kemi, Preiskari off the coast of Raahe, the southwest area of lake Lohjanjärvi in Lohja and the Kotka Archipelago.
Vaccinations against hepatitis A are available free of charge to those with haemophilia. Young patients who have received stem cell transplants are, following treatment, more prone than normal to many diseases. Because of this their vaccinations have to be begun again following treatment. These vaccinations are free of charge.
A child who has not been vaccinated, and who is not registered in Finland’s social security system, is nevertheless entitled to receive the vaccinations that are part of the national vaccination programme. The entitlement covers, for example, asylum seeker children or foreign children who are living temporarily in Finland. A foreign child can be given all the necessary vaccinations with an accelerated schedule if a health check shows that the vaccination protection is incomplete.