A vaccine is a medicinal product that creates resistance and immunity against a disease. Through vaccination, the person gets immune through the same natural mechanism as in the case of being sick, but in a safer way. Falling ill we might also risk to contract secondary diseases or complications that may be serious.
National vaccination programme – primary means of protection
The Finnish national vaccination programme was been successful in providing people with good protection against the major infectious diseases. Owing to our well-working child welfare clinic system and the long vaccination tradition, the coverage of Finnish children’s vaccinations is excellent.
However, the traditions may break and the vaccination coverage decline. For example, as far as the coverage of the seasonal influenza vaccinations is concerned, Finland ranks very low by European standards. People should be made aware of the risks of diseases, available vaccines as well as their benefits and associated risks.
Taking or not taking a vaccine is a conscious choice. Those thinking of taking a vaccine should think about their choice in detail, based on matter-of-fact research data. The vaccines in the vaccination programme have been investigated by experts who have found them to be safe and efficient at the individual and the population level.
Finland’s current national vaccination programme protects against about a dozen infectious diseases. The vaccination programme is developed in a persistent manner on the basis of the disease situation, most recent research outcomes and the new vaccines launched on the market. The vaccination programme must be developed and the availability of vaccines improved, also for adults.
Vaccines improve individual and societal wellbeing cost-efficiently
It is worth-while for society to promote people's willingness to protect themselves, also through the vaccines complementing the national vaccination programme. These vaccines must be paid for by the person involved unless the employer carries the costs through occupational healthcare. Based on the current Health Insurance Act, preventive vaccines do not qualify for reimbursements.
Preventive protection against the adult diseases promotes working and functional capacities and healthy ageing.
Vaccine provides immunity in a safe way
Vaccine safety is associated with very high demands because they are normally given to healthy individuals, often infants and children. A new vaccine introduced to the market is backed by thorough research.
The efficacy and safety of a new vaccine is studied in extensive clinical trials that take years. The vaccine is normally administered to tens of thousands of voluntary trial subjects.
The trials give detailed information on the benefits gained through the vaccines as well as on the adverse reactions caused. The benefits of a vaccine must be many times larger than the eventual adverse effects.
More tools for promotion of health
Vaccines are actively developed, especially in Europe. Today, there are vaccines available for the prevention of more than 40 diseases. In addition, many veterinary diseases are prevented through vaccines.
In the future, the selection of vaccines will be significantly more extensive owing to the R&D now done. More and more diseases can be prevented by an efficient vaccine - malaria is a good example.
Besides the traditional vaccines, we may soon have vaccines that cure diseases. The first vaccine for the treatment of prostatic cancer was approved in the US in 2010. Curing vaccines are also being developed for other cancer diseases as well as for allergies, various dependencies, AIDS and neurological diseases, such as the Alzheimer’s.
The extending selection of vaccine gives people more opportunities to actively maintain their health.