Via Helsinki Times: Swine flu is now the most common influenza. Excerpt:
Health care centres were on Thursday packed with people getting vaccinated against the influenza. “The phones have been ringing off the hook,” confirmed Helena Andersson, a nurse at the occupational health care centre of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS).
In fact, HUS employees scheduled vaccination appointments for Thursday to the extent that Andersson began her day by picking up more vaccines from the pharmacy.
“People have reacted unusually late. Reports about severe cases have definitely activated them. Usually, people get vaccinated against the influenza around New Year's,” says Leena Forss-Latvala, a senior medical officer at HUS.
“Vaccines should really be taken on time. They are of no use tomorrow, because it takes time to develop the protection,” she reminds.
This winter, the influenza season began belatedly but has proven severe. A number of severe flu-related illnesses have been reported unusually early on in the season, and thus far at least six people have died, indicate data provided to Helsingin Sanomat by hospital districts.
The swine flu, or the influenza virus subtype H1N1, is no longer the uncommon variant it was during the global pandemic four years ago but has become the most common seasonal influenza virus.
“The swine flu has replaced previous variants of the virus, and it has become a common seasonal flu. The same has happened with previous pandemics – the new virus has gained ground effectively,” reveals Mika Salminen, a research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the director of its infectious disease department.
However, it remains to be determined whether the prevalence of severe cases early on in the flu season is only a coincidence or an indication of an unusually potent virus.