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Summer is coming – are your vaccinations up to date?

As the days get warmer, people start to spend more time outside, working in the garden and travelling. The  risks surrounding such activities can be reduced, for example, by being vaccinated. We have found out what you should know about vaccinations as the summer approaches. Our questions were answered by our healthcare nurse Gerd Metsäranta at Kaskö Health Centre.

Tetanus vaccinations included in national vaccination programme. How often should tetanus vaccinations be given?

Tetanus is a serious, life-threatening general infection in which the bacterium secretes a neurotoxin that causes severe seizures. That is why it is important to protect yourself against it.

In Finland, children receive tetanus vaccinations at child welfare clinics and schools. Young adults are vaccinated against tetanus and pertussis at the age of 25. The vaccine is given again at 20-year intervals until the age of 65. People over the age of 65 are given a booster dose every ten years.

You cannot get an overdose of the vaccine, so a booster dose is not harmful. The booster is usually given if more than 10 years have passed since the previous vaccination and the wound is, for example, dirty or caused by an animal bite.

How do I know which vaccines I have received?

You can check your vaccination history from where you previously received the vaccinations, for example from a child welfare clinic or health centre.

Which vaccines should I take if I plan to travel abroad?

That depends on where you plan to travel. Tips for travel vaccinations can be found, for example, in the Traveller’s Health Guide which can be found on the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) website. It is worth noting that some of the recommended vaccines for travellers should be taken well in advance of a trip.

Ticks becoming active again. Is it worth vaccinating against tick-borne encephalitis? Can I get vaccinated at my local health station?

The vaccine is a good way to protect yourself from tick-borne encephalitis. Vaccination is especially worthwhile if you move around a lot in the wild and in areas with a large tick population. There have been only a few cases in Ostrobothnia in recent years, but protection is still worth having. If you are staying at a summer cottage in Finland in the summer where there are more abundant ticks, there may be reasons to get vaccinated. Areas where TBE, i.e, encephalitis, is present can be checked, for example, on the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) map (in Finnish), which collects information on the prevalence of encephalitis in Finland.

The TBE vaccine, a so-called tick vaccine, is a vaccine you have to pay for, which can be given at your local health station. You can get the prescription for the vaccine by calling your local health station and at the same time you can make an appointment for receiving the injection.

In addition to the vaccine, you should protect yourself from ticks by wearing light-coloured clothing and dressing in long sleeves and full-length trousers as well as high boots. After moving around in the wild, it is a good idea to do a tick check on all family members, including pets.

Who do I contact if I need to be vaccinated?

Contact your local health station if you need the vaccine. Some occupational health services also offer a vaccination service. Check with your employer to see if vaccinations are offered by your occupational health service.

More information on vaccinations can be found, for example, on the Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) website.

The safety of vaccines is monitored by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea.