Finland will offer bird flu vaccine to select groups of people, a possible world first | The broadcast


Finland is preparing to offer vaccines to people at risk of exposure to a strain of bird flu that spreads among farmed and wild animals, health officials said, potentially becoming the first country to take that step as vaccinations intensify. concerns about the threat the virus poses to people. .

The vaccination campaign will be limited and doses will be available to groups including poultry farmers, veterinarians, scientists studying the virus and people who work on fur farms that house animals such as mink and foxes and where there have been outbreaks.

In an email, Mia Kontio, a health security officer at the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, told STAT that the country was waiting for 20,000 doses to arrive, but planned to administer them “as soon as the vaccines are in the country.”

The decision to begin providing vaccines reflects fear that people in close contact with infected animals could contract the H5N1 virus themselves. For now, the virus is not particularly adept at infecting humans or, more importantly, spreading between them. But scientists worry that as the virus infects more mammal species and encounters more human cells, the greater the chance it will evolve and become a greater threat to people.