Influenza vaccination

The influenza vaccine is recommended for people with chronic lung diseases.

The influenza vaccine protects against influenza and its complications, such as ear infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, myocardial infarction, and cerebrovascular disease.

Influenza vaccinations usually begin in October or November, as winter is influenza season.

A nurse or a doctor will assess whether you belong to the target group that receives the vaccine for free. The influenza vaccine is available for free to people for whom influenza poses an essential health risk or who will gain significant health benefits from the vaccine.

Influenza is one of the most common infectious diseases, with symptoms varying from mild to severe. The seasonal influenza virus goes round the globe every year and causes tens of thousands of cases in Finland. During the winter of 2020–2021, people in Finland followed COVID-19 regulations and managed to avoid influenza as well.  

An effective way to protect yourself against influenza is to get vaccinated. 

Influenza contributes to the incidence of cardiovascular diseases (such as acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and cerebrovascular disease). Influenza can cause exacerbations of underlying conditions, such as COPD, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease. 

In elderly and vulnerable patients, hospitalisation may lead to reduced functional capacity, which, in turn, increases their need for care.

Influenza is caused by a virus that causes a more severe inflammation of the respiratory tract than the common cold, putting the body under stress. The influenza virus causes minor tissue damage in the bronchi and weakens the immune system, making it easier for bacteria to cause other conditions, such as sinusitis or even pneumonia.

Influenza often causes exacerbations of lung diseases, which require more medication and sometimes even lead to hospitalisation.

The eligibility criteria for free seasonal influenza vaccination within the national vaccination programme were updated in 2021. Currently the influenza vaccine is given free to people who:

  • belong to a risk group due to a health condition
  • are repeatedly in close contact with someone who is particularly susceptible to a severe infection (living in the same household or being in close contact on a weekly basis)
  • are repeatedly in close contact with someone who cannot get vaccinated and is susceptible to a severe infection
  • are social or health care workers or pharmaceutical service personnel
  • are pregnant
  • are under 7 years old
  • are in military service or about to enter military service
  • are 65 or over.

Determining what constitutes close contact may require a case-by-case consideration. The reason why the eligibility criteria were tightened was to ensure that there is enough vaccine for people belonging in the target groups.

You can get the influenza vaccine at:

  • municipal vaccination points (no appointment needed; check whether your municipality offers this)
  • health care centres (for free)
  • pharmacies (at your own expense)
  • occupational health care
  • an appointment booked for the treatment of your underlying health condition
  • your home if you are a patient receiving in-home health care.
  • The influenza vaccine contains either weakened viruses or parts of killed viruses. The free seasonal influenza vaccines that belong to the national vaccination programme do not use boosters or preservatives. The most common side effects of the influenza vaccine are local symptoms at the injection site. Serious adverse reactions, such as severe allergic reactions, are extremely rare.
  • Ask your physician for a prescription for the vaccine.
  • Pick up the vaccine from the pharmacy.
  • Book a vaccination appointment at your health centre.