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Flu vaccination: why is the campaign having such little success?

Since its launch on October 17, the flu vaccination campaign has had limited success.

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Flu vaccination: why is the campaign having such little success?

Since its launch on October 17, the flu vaccination campaign has had limited success. Faced with these “mediocre” figures, much lower than those of last year at the same period, Aurélien Rousseau spoke on X (ex-tweeter). At the end of November, the Minister of Health called for a “judgment” to make up for this delay at the risk of seeing the hospital and those most at risk pay “the high price”, he added. While the indicators show a progression of respiratory diseases in the territory, how can we explain that the doses are having difficulty flowing?

Winter has only just set in and three regions of France, Île-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, have already entered the pre-epidemic phase according to Public Health France, since November 29. In response, the Minister of Health himself expressed his concerns about the possible spread of the flu to other regions of the territory. “The pre-epidemic indicators are moving on the flu. It will gradually expand,” he wrote in a post on X.

For their part, the two main pharmacists' unions, the FSPF (Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France) and the USPO (Union of Community Pharmacists' Unions) have sounded the alarm in the face of the drop in the number of deliveries. of flu vaccines in pharmacies, according to data from the company IQVIA. “50 days after the launch of the annual campaign, a little more than 8 million doses of influenza vaccine were delivered by pharmacists in the territory, which represents 600,000 fewer people vaccinated compared to last year. That’s a drop of 8%,” indicates Philippe Besset, president of the FSPF.

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For the trade unionist, the trend could be explained by a weariness of the French in the face of vaccine incentives. “This is something that is not recent: it can be complicated to admit that getting vaccinated is good because most of the time, at the individual level, we do not see the immediate benefit. .” A problem reinforced, again according to Philippe Besset, by the shadow that the vaccination campaign against Covid may have cast which, conversely, experienced a more positive dynamic (3.3 million people aged over 65 years have been vaccinated since October 2 compared to 2 million in 2022).

Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the USPO, for his part regrets the consequences of logistics that were a little too hasty. “The people targeted as a priority by the campaign, in particular the elderly and at risk, receive their vaccination vouchers one month before the campaign begins. When they come to see us, we ask them to come back at launch time. But very often they forget. Added to this were several dissuasive factors, including surprisingly mild temperatures this October and going on vacation.

» READ ALSO - Flu, Covid, shingles, pneumococci… Why seniors should be vaccinated

At this stage, health authorities and specialists deplore the potential impact of this delay. “If the flu epidemic is of the same nature as that of last year, it is estimated that 600,000 fewer vaccinations could lead to a thousand additional hospitalizations and 300 to 400 deaths,” indicates Philippe Besset. To reverse the curve, health authorities are insisting on collective awareness. They recall that the vaccine is strongly recommended for the most vulnerable populations (elderly people, people suffering from chronic illnesses, immunocompromised people, and pregnant women) who are more likely to develop serious illnesses. However, it remains open to everyone. “A reversal is still possible but this must involve strengthening communication around the vaccination strategy. Furthermore, it is also the role of health professionals to be doubly vigilant about the vaccination status of their patients in order to encourage them to be vaccinated if they have forgotten,” underlines Pierre-Olivier Variot.

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