start of vaccination, symptoms, stronger this winter?

FLU 2021.If the flu epidemic has not yet started in France, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran warned on October 22 that it “could be strong this year”. Vaccination is open. What are the symptoms ? The duration of the illness? How to avoid contagion? Treat yourself?

[Mis à jour le 22 octobre 2021 à 12h23] If the flu epidemic has not yet started in France, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran warned Friday, October 22 on BFM-TV that she “could be strong this year since we did not have the flu last year so the level of population immunity is lower”. The vaccination campaign start it October 22 in pharmacies. Priority people have received their care voucher and can now go to pharmacy to collect their vaccine and be vaccinated at the professional of their choice (pharmacist, attending physician, etc.). In 4 weeks, the 23 november, populations “off target” can also be vaccinated against influenza if they wish.

It is quite possible to be vaccinated against the Covid at the same time (whether the first, second or third dose) and against influenza, recalled the Minister in accordance with the opinion of the High Authority of Health September 27. This does not present any danger. What are the flu symptoms ? The incubation period? The duration ? What are the treatments (natural or medicines) to heal quickly?

Flu epidemic 2021: how many cases at the moment?

According to data from Public health France in week 41 (October 11-17), the flu epidemic did not not started yet in France. Case detection remains “sporadic“. But the agency warns that the pandemic of Covid-19 to me an impact “considerable” on the epidemiology of respiratory viruses, particularly influenza. “If there outbreak of an epidemic influenza during the winter season 2021-22 appears as probable, he is very difficult to anticipate its temporality or its impact on the population and the healthcare system. This will depend, probably at least in part, on the epidemiological situation of COVID-19, the degree to which the general population adheres to barrier measures, which are very effective in combating influenza viruses, and the vaccination coverage of those targeted by the virus. influenza vaccination “. Invited on BFM-TV on Friday October 22, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran warned that the epidemic “could be strong this year since we did not have the flu last year so the level of population immunity is lower “. For now, no department is on alert.

Map and curve of the influenza epidemic for week 41 (11-17 October 2021) © Public health France

Definition: what is the flu?

Influenza is a acute respiratory infection, due to a Influenza virus, while flu-like illness can be caused by many other respiratory viruses like rhinovirus, virus syncytial respiratory, etc. Influenza viruses are essentially divided into two types: A et B, dividing themselves into two subtypes (A(H3N2) et A(H1N1) pdm09) or lineages (B/Victoria et B/Yamagata). Type A influenza viruses circulate in many animal species (ducks, chickens, pigs, horses, seals, etc.). Influenza viruses type B circulate mainly in humans. The A and B viruses are the cause of seasonal epidemics in humans but only type A viruses have been responsible for pandemics to this day, underlines Public Health France.

When and who should get the flu shot?

National seasonal flu vaccination campaign begins October 22, 2021. During the first 4 weeks, only priority people (deemed to be at risk) can be vaccinated at the pharmacy. On November 23, 2021, it will be people off target who will be able to be vaccinated. All EHPADs and health establishments that already have influenza vaccines have been vaccinating since October 18 to allow joint vaccination sessions against influenza and against Covid-19. The influenza vaccination can be done at the same time as the injection of an anti-Covid booster dose (a vaccine in each arm recommends the HAS). It is necessary count about 15 days between vaccination and when the body is protected against the flu. No need to wait for the first cold or the start of the epidemic to be vaccinated.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Every year, influenza epidemics can affect all age groups, but the most vulnerable are the children under two, adults over 65 and people with certain chronic diseases.

The first symptoms of the flu:

  • Great fatigue (asthenia) which sets in gradually and increasingly
  • Chills, even when you’re not cold
  • A dry, painful cough

In a second time :

  • A sore, sore throat
  • A fever high above 39 ° C
  • A stuffy and runny nose
  • Muscle and joint pain that looks like body aches
  • Eyes that weep, bloodshot, or sore when touched
  • Headaches

In all cases, in case of sudden worsening or without improvement of the condition 72 hours after the first symptoms, it is essential see a doctor.

What are the differences with the Covid?

The virus responsible for Covid-19 is very similar to that of seasonal flu, at least in its first manifestations, hence the risk of confusion between the two and the concern of patients. What do they have in common? Their differences?

The duration of contagion can last 6 days.

How long does the flu last?

A hard flu between 3 and 7 days (5 days on average).

What is the incubation and contagion time?

The incubation time (the time between the time of the condition and the onset of symptoms) usually lasts between 24 and 48 hours, but it can extend to 72 hours, recalls Dr Parneix. However, the patient is contagious, even before the onset of symptoms and for an average period of 6 days.

To be infected with the flu virus, you have to be in contact with someone who has already had the flu. Contamination can be done in three ways:

  • The first by airway : a sick person throws droplets of saliva into the air, when talking, coughing or sneezing. Millions of viruses are then found in the air, ready to be inhaled and infect you.
  • The second, by close direct contact : a sick person shakes your hand or kisses you.
  • Finally, contamination can occur through the contact with touched objects by a sick person, for example a doorknob or a telephone.
  • Cough at the crease of the elbow and cover your nose when sneezing,
  • Wash your hands with soap regularly throughout the day, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Blow your nose in a handkerchief and then throw it in the trash, ideally closed with a lid,
  • Porter a surgical mask if you are sick and have to go to a closed and public place, this prevents infecting others.
  • the gel hydroalcoolique is also convenient, but in the long run it can dry out the hands.
  • Finally, remember to ventilate the rooms regularly, several times a day: you will thus remove stagnant viruses in the air, through sneezing and breathing.

What are the treatments for the flu?

If you have flu-like symptoms:

  • See the doctor quickly. He will be able to establish the diagnosis and prescribe the most suitable drugs for you.
  • Take paracetamol to reduce fever, aches and pains.
  • Vitamin C is also sometimes recommended to fight against fatigue. Likewise, certain foods are particularly recommended to better fight fatigue.
  • If necessary, we can complete with a nasal decongestant and one anti-tussif for dry and rebellious coughs.
  • Finally, it is necessary drink plenty and rest.

“The flu is caused by a virus and antibiotics are totally ineffective in treating viral illnesses, plus they could damage the good bacteria the body needs to defend itself against illness.” reminds Dr Pierre Parneix.

What are the natural treatments for the flu?

Several natural solutions can help boost the immune system in prevention or treatment of the flu.

Flu in children: what to do?

To prevent your child from catching the flu virus, it is important to teach them to blow their nose in a disposable tissue, to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough. In all cases, consult your pediatrician so that he can examine him and administer, as appropriate, the most suitable treatment, in particular against fever.

To limit the seasonal flu epidemic, it is essential to adopt simple preventive measures on a daily basis aimed at limiting the circulation of the flu virus, particularly in communities and on public transport where it is easily transmitted. For those around people with the flu, it is recommended to respect these few hygiene rules:

  • Wash your hands regularly and systematically after each outing and each contact with the sick person.
  • Avoid close contact with the person with the flu and in particular if you yourself are vulnerable or “at risk” (pregnant women, seniors, people suffering from a chronic or immunodeficient disease, young children …)
  • See doing regularly hands with soap and water, or if you cannot do otherwise, with a hydro-alcoholic solution, in particular after any contact with the patient and after each return home.
  • Do not share objects such as glasses, cutlery and of course toothbrushes.
  • Air your interior every day for 10 to 15 minutes to renew the air and prevent the proliferation of viruses.
  • Clean germ nests like door handles, remote controls, phone screens …

Thank you to Dr Pierre Parneix, medical officer of health and hospital practitioner in public health (CHU de Bordeaux).

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