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Number of flu-related deaths in Estonia above EU average

Flu vaccine being administered.
Flu vaccine being administered. Source: (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Scanpix)

According to Health Board data, 34 people have died as a result of influenza in Estonia this season, indicating that the number of flu-related deaths in the country is higher than the EU average.

According to family physician Le Vallikivi, her doctor's office with its three patient lists sees one new flu patient per day, in addition to those suffering from complications related to the flu, reported ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera."

"At greatest risk are older people, people with a number of chronic illnesses, pregnant women, and small children," Vallikivi noted.

Of the 34 flu-related deaths recorded in Estonia so far this flu season, the majority were over 65 years of age.

The number of flu-related deaths in Estonia is also higher than the EU average.

"In the EU, it is below one person per 100,000," explained Health Board Director General Merike Jürilo. "For us, it is around three people."

According to Jürilo, those who have died from flu-related complications had other illnesses as well, and were unvaccinated. While the number of deaths per 100,000 people is higher in Estonia than the EU average, its older population, in contrast, is less vaccinated.

"If you consider the EU average, the average influenza vaccination rate is around approximately 60 percent," she pointed out. "In Estonia, just four percent of older people are vaccinated." This is still an improvement compared to earlier rates, however.

Both Jürilo and Vallikivi find that many people do not get the flu vaccine because they don't believe that the flu will affect them or understand how serious the consequences can be. Others still are concerned about the effects of the vaccine on their health.

In order to avoid falling ill, the Health Board recommends avoiding large crowds. Those who are already sick are urged not to visit older people or those with chronic illnesses.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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