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HEALTH

Sweden’s National Health Agency warns of flu vaccine shortages

Sweden’s National Health Agency has warned that there are local shortages of the flu vaccine across the country.

Sweden's National Health Agency warns of flu vaccine shortages
Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB Scanpix/TT
In light of the shortages, the agency has called on local officials to prioritize as needed. To be given first priority are those in certain medical risk groups, including pregnant woman and adults and children older than six months who have diseases or other medical conditions that would increase their risk of developing a severe influenza infection. 
 
Following that group, the vaccine should be prioritized for otherwise healthy people over the age of 65 and then healthcare personnel and others who come in contact with people with severe immune deficiencies. 
 
Vaccination shortages were first reported in Södermanland County in mid-November, but a health official there told broadcaster SVT that there were similar shortages throughout the country. The National Health Agency officially confirmed the shortages last week.
 
AnnaSara Carnahan, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, said the shortage is due to increased demand. 
 
“Roughly the same number of doses have been ordered and delivered as usual – around 1.5 million. But for unclear reasons, the demand has been greater than expected. More people simply want to be vaccinated,” she told news agency TT. 
 
Although the National Health Agency states that all adults can “benefit” from vaccinations, it only officially recommends that those 65 and over, pregnant woman and “persons with certain underlying diseases” get an annual influenza vaccination. 
 
If you have fallen ill with the flu, it’s recommended that you start by calling 1177, a free healthcare phoneline where you’ll be able to speak to a nurse in Swedish or English. 
 
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HEALTH

Sweden records world’s first case of bird flu in a porpoise

A porpoise found stranded on a Swedish beach in June died of bird flu, the first time the virus has been detected in one of the marine mammals, Sweden's National Veterinary Institute said on Wednesday.

Sweden records world's first case of bird flu in a porpoise

“As far as we know this is the first confirmed case in the world of bird flu in a porpoise,” veterinarian Elina Thorsson said in a statement. “It is likely that the porpoise somehow came into contact with infected birds,” she said.

The young male was found stranded, alive, on a beach in western Sweden in late June. Despite efforts from the public to get it to swim out to deeper
waters, it was suffering from exhaustion and died the same evening.

The bird flu virus, H5N1, was found in several of its organs. “Contrary to seals, where illnesses caused by a flu virus have been detected multiple times, there have been only a handful of reports of flu virus in cetaceans”, Thorsson said.

The virus has also previously been detected in other mammals, including red foxes, otters, lynx and skunks, the institute said.

Europe and North America are currently seeing a vast outbreak of bird flu among wild birds.

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