Target communities: Somali community

Vaccine(s): Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)

Description of the target community

The first Somali migrants came to Finland in the early 1990s. Today, the Somali-speaking community is the fourth largest migrant group after Russian, Estonian, and Arabic-speaking communities. Finland is home to 21,000 Somali-speaking individuals, with around 80 % of them living in the capital region1 Traditionally family sizes are large in the Somali population, but during the 2000s the fertility rate has decreased2 Regardless of the discrimination Somalis and other migrants of African origin face both in the job market and in their everyday life, Somalis reported being content in their quality of life3 Due to the civil war destroying the chance to comprehensibly start and finish basic education in Somalia, a portion of Somalis are illiterate. It is hard to estimate the total number of illiterate individuals in Finland, but 6 % of Somali-speaking respondents indicated illiteracy 4

Vaccine uptake

The actual vaccine uptake in the Somali-origin community is not known. However, a study assessing the MMR and influenza vaccinations among children with migrant origins found that the MMR coverage for children whose parent/s were from Sub-Saharan Africa was 96,1%.5Tiittala, Paula. (2018). MMR AND Influenza Vaccinations among Children with Migrant Origin in Finland. Based on those findings, an unpublished study by Haverinen et al. (2020) explored the factors for immunization in the Somali community. The study found that Somalis felt a strong commitment to participate in the national immunization program.

Contextual factors:

The Finnish maternal health care system consists of community-based clinics, which are run by a staff of public health nurses and general physicians. When a woman becomes pregnant, she contacts her local maternal and child health clinic. This step starts a long relationship of care, covering the journey between the prenatal stage all the way through school age. The purpose of maternal and child health clinic visits are prevention and early detection of pregnancy disorders, and in the later phase, offering maternity care for the new-born and supporting the family. Prenatal clinic visits are optional, but they are a precondition for eligibility for maternity allowance and maternity and paternity leave. Finland has a comprehensive national vaccination programme offering children under the age of 15 vaccinations to protect them from a host of communicable disease 6 These vaccinations are free of charge and administered at the child health clinic and school during age-specific check-ups. These vaccinations are voluntary, as are all vaccinations in Finland.

Facilitators to vaccination:

In Finland, all children and young adults are eligible for vaccines included in the national vaccination programme free of charge. Vaccination coverage is high in Finland 7, mainly because vaccinations are widely available as they are an integrated part of the child’s health care visits. Trust is an important factor in terms of facilitating vaccine uptake. Around 80 % of Somali migrants said they trust the Finnish healthcare system 8