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Finland Is First To Supply Bird Flu Vaccine to Farm Workers

June 26, 2024
The northern European country will vaccinate 10,000 farm workers; part of 40 million doses bought by the European Union.

Starting next week, Finland will become the first country to offer vaccinations against avian influenza — bird flu — as officials worry about increasing infections of the disease, including its spread to other farm animals and even humans.

The vaccinations are intended to prevent the onset of bird flu and will be given first to workers who are exposed to animals, starting with mink farms, UPI news service reported.

Finland bought enough vaccines to inoculate 10,000 people, each of whom will get two injections. The vaccines are part of an allotment of up to 40 million doses bought by the European Union from Australian vaccine-maker CSL Seqirus, according to UPI. Some 665,000 doses were delivered to the European Union, and the rest could be delivered over four years.

Finland hasn't had any humans contract bird flu, but its fur farming operations are considered to run a high risk of transmission to people. Its fur farms last year killed about 485,000 animals to stop the disease from spreading, according to UPI.

Hundreds of millions of birds, primarily chickens, have died or been euthanized after contracting or being exposed to the H5N1 bird flu strain, believed to be spread by wild birds. Previously, the disease was confined to birds, but in the past year other farm animals, especially dairy cows, have contracted it and at least three American farm workers have caught it from their cows.

The first human fatality from avian influenza occurred in April in Mexico, a person who apparently had no contact with farm animals but underlying health conditions. The three U.S. farm workers had mild symptoms and recovered quickly.

U.S. government officials have been testing for the disease in the U.S. food supply. Traces of it turned up in 20% of grocery milks sampled by FDA, but the disease was killed by pasteurization, and one dairy cow – on its way to becoming ground beef but diverted from the food supply – tested positive.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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