Record number of influenza deaths in Estonia

In Estonia, deaths from influenza amount to 3 per 100,000 people -- the highest fatality rate from flu in the European Union.

Marta Tuul
Marta Tuul Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
Record number of influenza deaths in Estonia - NewsMavens
Microbiology. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Of the Estonians who have died from influenza recently, most were over 65 years old -- an age group with an extremely low vaccination rate in Estonia.

In the EU, the average vaccination rate for senior citizens is around 60 percent. In Estonia it's less than 4 percent.

"I'll be honest: there's no time to treat everyone, so we end up dealing with those who complain more," said a nurse employed in a care facility for the elderly. "But influenza is incapacitating enough for people not to be able to speak." 

Citizens are wary of vaccination, believing they don't need it to fight off illness, or else they're afraid of its potential health effects. 

A widespread campaign is needed to make Estonians understand the risks at hand, because the situation could easily degenerate into deadlier epidemics, like the measles outbreak in the Balkans.


Why has influenza taken so many lives?

  • Influenza has killed 51 people this year. None of them had been vaccinated. 
  • Also this year, 1,019 people have been hospitalized with the flu, 71 percent of whom were were older patients.
  • Last week, 6,619 people went to the doctor with upper respiratory tract viral infections. More than a third of them were children. 
  • Just 3.2% of the population has been vaccinated against influenza.
  • In 2016, winter flu killed 47 people. Nearly half of them had not received treatment or started treatment too late.
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