Out of the 15 nations that have purchased bird flu vaccinations from CSL Seqirus under the joint EU procurement plan, Finland is expected to become the first country in the world to offer selected groups vaccination against the disease.

Out of the total 40 million vaccine doses bought under the contract, Finland has secured doses for 10,000 people, consisting of two injections each. The vaccination rollout is expected to start sometime next week.

According to authorities, people working in occupations that expose them to animals are the target audience for the vaccine.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) explained in a statement that the vaccine will be made available to people aged 18 or over who are at an increased risk of contracting the virus due to the nature of their work or other circumstances.

Although no cases of avian influenza have been detected in humans in Finland, there have been recent global cases where the virus has spread from birds to mammals, like cows, and eventually to humans. Such instances have been reported in the U.S. Globally, the H5N1 strain of the disease has also resulted in the culling of hundreds of millions of poultry.

The risk posed by the fur farms in the country has motivated authorities to take action, despite no incidents of human transmission being reported in Finland. Animals in fur farms can end up getting exposed to wildlife, which makes the situation in Finland precarious.

Approximately 485,000 animals had to be culled last year across over 70 open-air fur farms in the country, which were riddled with virus outbreaks in mink and foxes.

Last month, Finnish authorities announced that they would be taking extra surveillance measures in fur farms, and the initiative is expected to come into full force towards the end of September.

Among the people identified as most at risk of possibly contracting the disease are lab technicians who handle bird flu samples and fur and poultry farm workers. Additionally, veterinarians who work in regions with fur farms and act as animal control officers will also be given precedence.

Other people who will be offered the vaccine include individuals who work in sanctuaries and take care of wild animals or those responsible for cleaning the premises of farms that process animal by-products or livestock.

If any person is confirmed or suspected of having contracted the disease, people closest to them will also be administered the vaccination.

Following the lead set by Europe, the U.S. has also hired CSL Seqirus to supply it with the vaccine, referred to as the Zoonotic Influenza Vaccine Seqirus.

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