FINLAND is set to offer vaccinations to people who may be exposed to avian influenza following an EU-wide shared procurement programme.

The European Commission has signed a contract for the supply of up to 665,000 pre-pandemic vaccine doses of the vaccine which is manufactured by pharmaceutical company Seqirus UK Ltd.

See also: Whole UK declares itself avian influenza-free

The four-year contract includes an option for a further 40 million doses over its duration if required.

The vaccine is the only preventive zoonotic avian influenza vaccine currently authorized in the EU, and the contract allows member states to purchase the vaccines as required.

Finland will be the first member state to receive the vaccines, having already decided to offer inoculations to at-risk people such as poultry and mink farm workers and veterinarians.

Risk assessment

Based on a risk assessment, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare will now determine the groups of people for whom the vaccine is recommended.

It added in a statement: “So far, no avian influenza infections have been detected in humans in Finland. Avian influenza can be transmitted to humans by infected or dead animals or their secretions or faeces.”

Stella Kyriakides, EU commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: While the threat of avian influenza to the general population remains low, we need to protect people at higher risk, such as poultry and farm workers or certain veterinarians.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s Health Security Agency said it could not comment on the matter given the pre-election period.