France advances its flu vaccination

The vaccination campaign will be launched earlier than expected, Friday, in France, in a particularly uncertain context because still marked by the Covid-19 epidemic

Against the seasonal flu, the French authorities want to go quickly: the vaccination campaign will be launched earlier than expected, Friday, in a particularly uncertain context because still marked by the Covid-19 epidemic. “Because everything is ready for the flu vaccination campaign, we are moving forward with its launch,” the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, announced Monday evening on Twitter. The French will therefore be able to be vaccinated on Friday if they are part of the categories that are recommended to do so.

These are mainly people over 65 and pregnant women, but also people with certain pathologies: asthma, diabetes, heart failure, AIDS … All caregivers are also concerned. We are talking about vaccination “in town” for independent people, who can for example ask their doctor or a pharmacist. In nursing homes, the campaign has already started on Monday. Originally, the French had to wait until Tuesday, October 26 to be vaccinated against the flu. The Ministry of Health finally preferred to hurry and bring the date forward by four days.

In question: the Covid-19, which is still the subject of its own vaccination campaign. French people at risk can in particular be injected with a booster dose of anti-Covid vaccine since the beginning of September. However, the people affected by this “third dose” are often the same as those who should receive the influenza vaccine, primarily the elderly. The health authorities therefore want to kill two birds with one stone. The date has been brought forward to “not lose any opportunity to vaccinate against influenza and against (the) Covid-19 the most fragile people”, explained the General Directorate of Health (DGS), which depends on the ministry, Monday in a note to caregivers. As for the non-priority French, they will have to wait a month, November 22, even if the DGS leaves the possibility of opening the vaccination to everyone earlier.

No alert yet

Concretely, it will be possible – and even encouraged – to receive at the same time his third dose of anti-Covid vaccine and his flu vaccine. At the end of September, the High Authority for Health (HAS) had prepared the ground by stressing that there is no danger in being vaccinated simultaneously against the two diseases. The only precaution to be taken is to receive each injection in a different arm. Like every year, it is difficult to know how the flu will hit many French people. And fears are particularly high in the event of a restart of the Covid-19 epidemic: two simultaneous epidemics, influenza and Covid, would put the hospital system to the test.

Last year, in the middle of the second wave of Covid-19, there was no seasonal flu epidemic. Successive confinements and “barrier” measures to fight the epidemic had then reduced the circulation of other viruses, starting with that of influenza. On the flip side, the low circulation of viruses last winter probably reduced the population’s immunity. There are already signs of a rebound in bronchiolitis, a respiratory disease that affects babies. But for now, nothing concrete about the flu, which generally reaches its peak from December.

“I can not predict with confidence that there will be an epidemic of influenza”, summarizes a source within Public Health France, health agency dependent on the ministry. “We are starting to see a little bit of virus circulation but there is no warning.” The government has, in any case, taken its precautions by ordering more vaccines than last year.

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