Flu vaccination is delayed. Is there still time to get vaccinated?

Flu vaccination is delayed.  Is there still time to get vaccinated?

Faced with the looming flu epidemic, there has not yet been a surge in vaccination in Europe. A situation which worries the Ministry of Health in anticipation of the coming weeks. But is it still useful to get vaccinated at the beginning of December? The response from Dr Gérald Kierzek.

At a time when three French regions have already been placed on pre-epidemic flu threshold, vaccination is stagnating. And this slow pace is starting to worry the authorities.

500,000 fewer vaccinated compared to 2022 at the same period

The 2022-2023 campaign made it possible to vaccinate 51.5% of the 18 million people considered at risk, which was already far from the 75% mark desired by the World Health Organization. But this year, the French seem to be slowing down the process even more.

According to figures as of November 30, 8.3 million doses were injected by pharmacists on the 43rd day of the vaccination campaign (which began on October 17), compared to 8.9 million at the same time in 2022. The Union of Community Pharmacists’ Unions means 500,000 fewer people vaccinated than last year. Aurélien Rousseau, Minister of Health, was alarmed on Thursday November 30, fearing an increase in flu cases in the days or weeks to come.

“This is now worrying. We need a start. Otherwise, it is the hospital and the most vulnerable who will pay a high price for all this.”

Same story among pharmacists who fear the immediate effect of this delay: “If nothing is done, we will end the season with a million fewer flu vaccinations than last year!”warned Philippe Besset, the president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of Europe (FSPF) in The Parisianbefore hammering:

According to epidemiologists, 500,000 fewer doses administered cause 1,000 more hospitalizations and a few hundred additional deaths.

The double Covid-Flu vaccination in question?

Faced with this delay, Uspo mentions an already technical problem: the public concerned would have received their vaccination voucher too early, and could have forgotten them. Philippe Besset explains three other possible reasons for this delay:

  • A “vaccine fatigue” French people, whose recalls were requested several times during the Covid pandemic;
  • A lack of effectiveness in communication from health authorities on the importance of the flu vaccine;
  • And finally, the implementation of double vaccination which may impact the decision of the French. “It’s a bit complicated to tell the French that we are going to vaccinate them against Covid in one arm and flu in the other on the same day”he told TF1.

There is still time to get vaccinated to protect yourself

But is the expected surge possible? In other words, is it still useful to schedule your vaccination to avoid the flu wave when we are already at the beginning of December? This is the question that many French people are asking themselves.

“Of course it is still possible, and it is even recommended, especially since the epidemic is not yet in full swing, so it is now”, answers Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens. Before discussing the facts that we should keep in mind:

“It should be remembered that the flu kills more than 10,000 people a year in Europe and causes serious secondary infections among the most vulnerable. These are the people who must be vaccinated as a priority.”

Let us also remember that the risk categories represent the elderly, very young children, pregnant women, people who have a chronic illness but also smokers.

The vaccination campaign continues until January 31, 2024.