Finland has become the first country in the world to start bird flu vaccinations for humans, health authorities announced on Tuesday.

According to authorities, the Nordic country plans to offer preemptive bird flu vaccines to some workers with animal exposure as soon as next week.

Finland has bought vaccines for 10,000 people, each consisting of two injections, as part of a joint EU procurement of up to 40 million doses for 15 nations.


Australian manufacturer CSL Seqirus, who created the doses, told Reuters that Finland would be the first country to roll out the vaccine.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said, “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.”

In recent years, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed hundreds of millions of poultry globally. More recently, it has increasingly been spreading to cow herds across the US and, in some cases, to humans.

While Finland has not detected the virus in humans, the country is eager to roll out vaccinations given high transmission risks posed by its fur farms.

Chief Physician Hanna Nohynek, at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, said to Reuters: “The conditions in Finland are very different in that we have fur farms where animals can end up in contact with wildlife.”

Last year, widespread outbreaks of bird flu among mink and foxes in Finland’s farms led to the culling of some 485,000 animals to stop spread of the virus.

According to health authorities, vaccinations are likely to start as early as next week in some parts of Finland for people deemed to be at risk.


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