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EXPLAINED: How to get the flu vaccine in Norway 

Flu season is upon us, but who is eligible for a influenza jab? Where can you get one in Norway, and what does it cost? 

Here's how you can get the flu-jab in Norway. Pictured is a doctor preparing an injection,
Here's how you can get the flu-jab in Norway. Pictured is a doctor preparing an injection,Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

A bout of flu is never nice, and in some cases, you can get seriously ill, with some risk groups more prone to severe illness than the rest of the population. Influenza can lead to severe pneumonia, among other things, and also exacerbate any existing conditions one might have.  

Seasonal flu vaccines in Norway contain four types of flu virus; two A strains (one of the H1N1 subtype and one of the H3N2 subtype) and two B strains (Victoria and Yamagata). 

Municipalities began receiving shipments of flu jabs in mid-October, with the rollout in most places beginning shortly after. 

Who is recommended to get a jab? 

Everyone over the age of 65 is recommended to get a flu jab annually, as well as care home residents, women who are more than 12 weeks pregnant (or those in the first trimester that belong to a risk group), and premature babies born before week 32 of pregnancy aged between 6 months to 5 years. 

In addition to this, children and adults are advised to get a flu jab if they have chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, liver and renal failure, an impaired immune system, a neuromuscular disease that affects breathing, multiple disabilities, or if they are severely obese.

If you think you may have a health condition that means you are more at risk, you can ask to be assessed by your doctor. 

The seasonal influenza jab is also recommended for those working in health, pig farming, and those living with or in close contact with immunosuppressed people. 

Everyone else who wants to receive a flu vaccine will need to pay (more on that below). You can read more on who can get a flu jab on the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s website here

Where to get one

Municipalities handle the rollout process, so how, where, and who you get your vaccine from will depend on your local authority. 

To find out where you can get the vaccine in your area, you should check with your local authority or GP’s office. 

If you belong to a risk group, your local GP or the municipal flu vaccine service should contact you. If you are in a risk group or eligible and haven’t heard from the authorities regarding your flu jab its best to get in touch with them. 

You can also book an appointment for a flu jab at a pharmacy. However, as this is not included in Norway’s flu vaccination program so will come with additional costs. 

How much does it cost?

This year the flu vaccine is will cost 88 kroner for those in risk and target groups this year.

For those getting vaccinated at a GP, there will be a deductible of 50 kroner for the service. For those who have a free card, the vaccine will be free. Free cards are issued to those who pay the maximum annual amount of yearly deductibles. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

The cost will be considerably more for those who opt to take a flu vaccine at a pharmacy. This is because the pharmacy will charge for the vaccine and also the vaccination service. This also applies to those in target and risk groups. 

The price of a vaccine at pharmacies will vary due to differing prices for the jab and services, but as an example, a vaccine from Apotek 1 costs 399 kroner.

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HEALTH

How long does it take to get a GP appointment in Norway? 

Norway has a GP system in place, which means the majority will have a regular doctor to help them with their medical needs. But how long does it take to get an appointment at the doctor's office? 

How long does it take to get a GP appointment in Norway? 

Everyone enrolled in Norway’s National Insurance Scheme, which is almost everybody living and working in Norway legally, is entitled to having a GP or regular doctor. 

These general doctors are called fastlege, and while you will automatically be enrolled in the National Insurance Scheme, you will need to register with a doctor yourself.

For more information on registering or switching doctors in Norway, click here

While Norway’s GP system may sound functional and straightforward, it only works if you can access your doctor when needed. 

For many in Norway this is an issue, as due to doctor shortages, there are around 175,000 people in Norway without a doctor

However, how long does it take for those with a doctor to get an appointment? Well, patients in Norway have rights when it comes to waiting for an appointment. 

These rights are protected in law under the Patients Rights Act. For example, if you need immediate help, you are entitled to an appointment on the same day. If it is not urgent, patients are entitled to be seen by a doctor within five working days. 

READ MORE: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

How does this work in reality? 

While the targets of same-day treatment for urgent care and five days for non-urgent appointments sound ideal, getting a sit-down with a GP within this time frame may be difficult. 

In the latest satisfaction survey of the GP scheme in Norway by the Ministry of Health and Social Care, patients were only partially satisfied with waiting times. 

The satisfaction score for securing an emergency appointment on the same day was just 63 out of 100. The number of patients who had waiting times of more than two days for emergency appointments has also increased since 2018, according to the survey. 

The survey found that waiting times for regular appointments had also increased between 2022 and 2018. 

Issues with being able to secure an appointment have been ongoing for years, dating back to at least 2017. 

While the current government has committed money to improve Norway’s GP scheme, these plans may take years to come to fruition. 

Additionally, how long you are required to wait for an appointment may depend on your location. 

GPs in Norway have patient lists. In rural and northern parts of the country, doctors can have up to 2,500 people on their patient lists. A single doctor being responsible for so many can make it harder to secure an appointment. 

The average number of patients doctors have on their list is around 1,120 people. However, this is according to data from a few years ago- so the average may now be higher or lower. 

With so many patients on a single doctor’s list, GP surgeries must prioritise based on one’s healthcare needs. Unfortunately, this means you cannot expect a first come, first serve approach to securing an appointment. 

Other alternatives 

If you have trouble securing an appointment with your current doctor, then you can switch GPs twice a year. 

Switching to a doctor with a shorter patient list may mean quicker appointments. If your healthcare needs are really urgent, then all municipalities in Norway offer an out-of-hours medical service. To speak to your local out-of-hours medical service, call 116 117. 

Norway’s public health authority, helsenorge, says that high fever – particularly in children, moderate breathing issues, acute illness or severe deterioration, unresponsive and exhausted children and adults, serious mental illness, suspected pregnancy complications, cuts and injuries requiring stitches and fractures are all reasons to use the out of hours service. 

If someone is in a serious life-threatening condition, you will need to call 113. Operators will assess the situation and send an ambulance to take you to the hospital if required. Norway’s 113 services should only be used in emergencies. 

Going private is another option for those who need an appointment. There are several healthcare providers which offer GP appointments for between 600 and 1,100 kroner. 

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