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  • Vaccine recommendations for influenza season 2021-2022

Article

Vaccine recommendations for influenza season 2021-2022

Almost 1.6 million people in Norway belong to groups with an increased risk of complications from influenza. They are recommended to take the seasonal influenza vaccine.

Illustration by Racecar, for NIPH
Illustration by Racecar, for NIPH

Almost 1.6 million people in Norway belong to groups with an increased risk of complications from influenza. They are recommended to take the seasonal influenza vaccine.


Influenza (also known as the flu) can lead to pneumonia, stroke and worsening of chronic underlying diseases. It is estimated that an average of 900 people die in Norway each year as a result of the disease. In some years, as many as 2,000 people could die from influenza. The influenza vaccine can save many of these lives.

Groups recommended to take the influenza vaccine

The influenza vaccine is especially recommended for:

  • 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 to 5 years
  • Children and adults 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 severe and / or chronic diseases where influenza poses a serious health risk, after individual assessment by a doctor

In addition, the influenza vaccine is recommended for:

  • Healthcare personnel and other employees in the health and care service who have close contact with patients during treatment or care
  • People who live with (or are equivalently close to) people who are immunosuppressed
  • Pig breeders and others who have regular contact with live pigs.

Can prevent serious illness

The elderly and people with chronic diseases are more likely to become seriously ill from influenza than the rest of the population. Pneumonia is a common complication. With severe influenza, organ failure and the need for respiratory assistance may require admission to hospital, and possibly intensive care.
People with cardiovascular disease are more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes during the influenza season. Influenza can also make it difficult to control blood sugar for diabetic patients and lead to deterioration in asthma patients and others with impaired lung function.

Following influenza, some may experience a worsening of existing chronic diseases. Some people also experience long-term deterioration in health after a serious disease course, and their need for help may increase so much that they can no longer live at home.

The influenza vaccine can prevent a severe influenza disease course and protect against long-term health consequences and permanently impaired health.

About the seasonal influenza vaccine 2021/22

The seasonal influenza vaccines contain four different influenza viruses - two A strains and two B strains. 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.

The effect of the influenza vaccine varies from year to year, but is on average about 60 per cent. This means that approximately 6 out of 10 of those vaccinated are protected against influenza. 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.

Inactivated influenza vaccines

Inactivated influenza vaccines are non-live vaccines for injection, which contain virus parts or purified virus components from four influenza viruses (quadrivalent). The lower age limit is 6 months and there is no upper age limit.

Adjuvanted inactivated influenza vaccine

Adjuvanted inactivated influenza vaccine is a non-live vaccine for injection, which contains purified virus components from four influenza viruses (tetravalent). In addition, it contains an adjuvant, which is a substance that boosts the effect of the vaccine by increasing the immune response in the body. The vaccine is intended for people with weakened immune systems and this season is available to residents in nursing homes and people on the waiting list for such housing. The lower age limit is 65 years.

Live attenuated influenza vaccine

Live attenuated (attenuated) influenza vaccine (LAIV) contains cold-adapted, temperature-sensitive, attenuated influenza virus and is administered in the form of nasal spray. LAIV has a lower age limit of 2 years and an upper age limit of 17 years. Since the vaccine is live, it should not be used by people with clinical immunosuppression or by pregnant women.

Composition of the seasonal vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a network of national influenza centres to monitor influenza activity and recommend the composition of next season's vaccine. The Norwegian Influenza Centre (NIC Norway), located at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, contributes to this work every year.

For season 2021/2022, the quadrivalent influenza vaccine (inactivated and live attenuated vaccine) for the northern hemisphere contains these viruses, according to WHO’s recommendation:

  • an A / Victoria / 2570/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus
  • an A / Cambodia / e0826360 / 2020 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B / Washington / 02/2019 (B / Victoria lineage)-like virus and
  • a B / Phuket / 3073/2013 (B / Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

Registration in Norwegian Immunisation Registry SYSVAK

Influenza vaccination shall be notified to SYSVAK. If the person who is vaccinated logs into the vaccine service at helsenorge.no, they can see their vaccinations listed there.