Already in full wave of Covid, France begins to vaccinate against the flu

published on Monday, October 17, 2022 at 05:10

France launches its flu vaccination campaign on Tuesday, with the hope of the authorities to avoid a strong epidemic in a health context already marked by a wave of Covid-19.

“There is a lot of interest in people at risk being vaccinated quickly,” warned immunologist Jean-Daniel Lelièvre in early October, during a press conference by the ANRS, the public agency for the fight against infectious diseases.

This will be possible from Tuesday. Recipients will be able to get a flu shot free of charge, through a doctor, a pharmacy, a nurse or a midwife.

These people mainly include people over 65 years of age, pregnant women, the severely obese (BMI over 40), and patients with certain chronic diseases such as diabetes.

The flu shot will be reserved for them until November 15. Subsequently, all the French will be able to benefit from it but at their own expense if they are not part of the objective.

Flu is currently limited to a few sporadic cases in France, and it is impossible to know what scale the epidemic will take. But several experts are already worried about a difficult year.

“There are several reasons,” explained Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, referring in particular to the data from the countries of the southern hemisphere, including Australia: the influenza epidemic, which develops there before the northern countries, caused quite severe symptoms. .

– ‘We pay less attention’ –

But the concerns also come, in various aspects, from the context linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After almost three years, “we use the mask much less, we pay less attention”, emphasizes the immunologist.

Another negative element, the dernier, in a brouillé context for the launch of a campaign of vaccination of rappel against him Covid, the French are peu fait vacciner against the grippe: à comb plus of the moitié des eligibles l’ have made.

“So immunity tends to decline in the general population,” Mr. Lelièvre concluded.

This year, again, the authorities have the challenge of double vaccination against influenza and Covid.

A new recall campaign is underway against the latter and, with the flu, the goals overlap heavily. Among the few discrepancies, people between 60 and 65 years old are concerned about vaccination against Covid and not against the flu.

No worries, a priori, regarding the offer. French giant Sanofi, which supplies about half of the country’s vaccines, reported production “well above demand.”

– Two birds with a stone –

The risk refers rather to the lack of clarity at the level of the articulation between the two vaccines: instead of a joint launch, the anti-Covid campaign began in early October.

In question, the appearance at the beginning of the school year of a new wave of Covid, which made the health authorities hurry up.

Why, then, not advance in the campaign against the flu? “If we start too early, (…) we run the risk that people will not be covered if we have a late flu epidemic,” we explained to the Ministry of Health.

Last season, however, the flu epidemic was precisely exceptionally late: it peaked in early spring and not, as usual, at the turn of the year.

In any case, the health authorities want to encourage eligible French people to kill two birds with one stone: get vaccinated against Covid in one arm and against the flu in the other.

“A certain number of our fellow citizens have reservations (and) we respect that” despite the proven absence of risk, we acknowledge the ministry. But “the message is still to have both vaccines in a relatively short period of time.”

Beyond vaccination, the authorities are also trying to articulate a discourse that encompasses the fight against the two diseases, at a time when the current wave of Covid is having relatively little media coverage despite hospitalizations and deaths in increase.

“Il ne faut pas banaliser” le Covid, declared jeudi le minister de la Santé, François Braun, to the AFP of the other.”

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