"It’s going to be very hard this year": Pharmacists worried about low rate of flu vaccination

The low rate of vaccination against the flu this year “is probably explained by the weariness of the population talking all the time about the vaccine”, an infectious disease specialist told BFMTV.

Metropolitan France is increasingly threatened by seasonal flu, health authorities reported on Wednesday, with the epidemic announcing early in a health context already made difficult by a persistent Covid and an outbreak of bronchiolitis.

Last week was marked by an “increase in all the indicators of the flu”, summarized in a weekly report the public health agency France. This trend concerned all age groups, while being more marked among those under 15 years of age.

“It’s going to be very hard this year, so it’s essential to renew your vaccine,” said Philippe Besset, president of the FSPF, the first trade union in the profession.

“Very difficult” to catch up “backlog”

On Monday, the two main pharmacists’ unions said that vaccination against seasonal flu is “significantly late” compared to last year.

“It’s a bit of a disaster this year”, already confirmed Philippe Besset. Especially since this decline mainly concerns “priority” audiences (over 65, chronically ill, pregnant women), for whom the injection was reserved until November 15.

Pointing to a “general fatigue towards vaccination, even among those for whom it is necessary”, Philippe Besset believes that it will be “very difficult” to catch up with this “delay” without a “significant communication campaign”.

With BFMTV, infectious disease specialist Imad Kansou points out that the vaccination rate was lower than usual “from the start” of the opening of the vaccination campaign.

“But we probably explain this by the weariness of the population talking all the time about the vaccine. We are coming out of several waves of the Covid-19 pandemic: there is a mental association, and in fact, it is becoming very complicated”, says -he.

The fear of a “triple epidemic”

In absolute terms, the number of cases is still low in mainland France and is (for the moment) not likely to immediately put the healthcare system in difficulty. But their increase is strong: consultations for flu-like illness have thus jumped by two thirds compared to the previous week, and the number of visits to the emergency room for flu or flu-like symptoms by 39%.

However, the healthcare system is already facing an epidemic of bronchiolitis in babies, on an unprecedented scale for many years, and the persistent pressure of Covid, for which hospitalizations have rebounded in recent days.

This triple epidemic situation has already taken hold in the United States, where influenza-related hospitalizations have reached their highest level in a decade.

“In this context, it is strongly recommended that people at risk and health professionals get vaccinated without delay against seasonal flu”, reaffirmed Public Health France.

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