How to Get the Flu Jab in Norway

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The Norwegian Institute of Public Health are encouraging almost 1.6 million people to get the seasonal influenza jab this season.

In Norway, an estimated 900 people die from influenza in a typical year. However, it has been two years since Norway last had a proper flu season. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health are expecting an epidemic this winter.

Person with flu jab plaster

As such, the organisation is recommending that everyone in a risk group for influenza gets the vaccine. In a press release, they estimated this to amount to 1.6 million people.

Read more: Healthcare in Norway

“We expect that viruses that have not been in circulation for several years will return. This is a virus against which we have little protection, and this particularly applies to young children,” said the Institute of Public Health director, Camilla Stoltenberg.

Must-know information about influenza

Commonly known as the flu, influenza is harmless for most people beyond relatively mild symptoms such as fever, weakness, dry cough, headache and muscle/joint pain, and sore throat.

However, influenza can lead to pneumonia, stroke and worsening of chronic underlying diseases. Admission to hospital may be necessary for severe complications.

Healthcare concept image in Norway

The elderly and people with chronic diseases are more likely to become seriously ill from influenza than the rest of the population. It can impact people with cardiovascular, diabetes, asthma and other lung conditions.

According to the Institute of Public Health, the seasonal flu vaccine “can prevent a severe influenza disease course and protect against long-term health consequences and permanently impaired health.”

The seasonal flu vaccine in Norway

Vaccination takes just a few minutes, although you will be requested to wait for 20 minutes afterwards in case of any negative reaction.

Influenza vaccines differ from others vaccines in that they must be adapted to the mutations in the virus and therefore change from year to year. That's why it's recommended to have the vaccine every year.

The effect of the influenza vaccine varies from year to year, but is on average about 60%. The effect depends on the characteristics of the virus, the vaccine and those who are vaccinated. Some people get influenza despite being vaccinated, but it seems that the vaccine can reduce the risk of a serious disease course.

St. Olav's Hospital in Trondheim, Norway.

One group with particularly low vaccination coverage is children in the risk groups. As of today, vaccination coverage among these children is around eight percent.

“Influenza has been largely absent during the pandemic due to strict infection control measures, and the population's protection against influenza is therefore low. Some children have never had the flu, and thus have little or no immunity. That is why it is very important that the risk groups remember to get the flu vaccine this year,” said Stoltenberg.

Risk groups for influenza in Norway

As we said earlier, approximately 1.6 million people are considered to belong to risk groups in Norway. This includes:

  • Residents in care homes and nursing homes
  • Everyone from the age of 65 years
  • Pregnant women in their 2nd and 3rd trimester, and pregnant women in the 1st trimester with other additional risk factors
  • Premature babies, especially babies born before week 32 of pregnancy, from 6 months (chronological age) to 5 years

Other risk groups include adults and children with:

  • chronic lung disease (including asthma)
  • cardiovascular disease (other than well-regulated high blood pressure)
  • type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • liver failure or renal failure
  • chronic neurological disease or injury
  • impaired immune function due to disease or treatment (e.g. organ transplant, cancer, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases)
  • morbid obesity (BMI over 40)
  • other serious or chronic diseases where influenza is a serious health risk, after individual assessment by a doctor

How to get the flu vaccine in Norway

The first thing to do is to contact your general practitioner. They are likely to have published information about the flu vaccine on their website. You can also check with your local municipality.

Healthcare for visitors to Norway

For example, my doctor offers the seasonal flu vaccine for everyone in a risk group at a cost of NOK 300. Bookings can be made online in the same way as normal appointments.

It's also possible to get the seasonal flu vaccine from some pharmacies. This may be a good option for you if your doctor has no free appointments or you are about to travel.

For example, all Boots pharmacies offer the vaccine at a cost of NOK 349. Bookings are available online and it's also possible to drop-in, subject to availability. Branches of Apotek1 also offer the vaccine at a cost of NOK 399.

If you get the jab at a pharmacy, there's no need to notify your general practitioner. It will be registered automatically the Norwegian immunisation registry known as SYSVAK. You can login to helsenorge.no to see your vaccinations.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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