Flu vaccination: “There are fifteen days left to catch up with the trend”

Flu vaccination: “There are fifteen days left to catch up with the trend”

Philippe Besset has his eyes fixed on the curves, updated daily. And what he sees is not likely to reassure him. “If nothing is done, we will end the season with a million fewer flu vaccinations than last year! », alerts the president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France (FSPF).

On the 43rd day of the campaign, 8.3 million doses were delivered by pharmacists, with the aim of being administered in a pharmacy by a doctor, by a nurse, etc., according to figures from the company IQVIA France, based on a panel of pharmacies. This number is down 6% compared to last year at the same period (8.9 million). The gap has widened in recent days and we were almost stable in mid-November, as in the data from the Ministry of Health until November 19.

“Time is running out, because the flu is starting to arrive,” urges Pierre-Olivier Variot, head of the Union of Community Pharmacists’ Unions (USPO). In its weekly report published this WednesdayPublic Health France has also placed the first three regions (Auvergne – Rhône-Alpes, Île-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) in the pre-epidemic phase.

“Vaccine fatigue”

The annual influenza vaccination campaign began on October 17. Like every year, those over 65, younger people with health problems and even caregivers are encouraged to reach out. Children and adolescents are also officially eligible, for the first time. Last year, 56% of seniors aged at least 65 and 32% of younger adults at risk of serious illness were immunized. Levels already very far from the 75% recommended by the World Health Organization.

How can we explain that the campaign “slowed down” earlier this year? Everyone has their own assumptions. Philippe Besset evokes a growing “vaccine fatigue” of the population, but also communication considered timid by health authorities. “The alarm did not take place this year! We mainly heard about bronchiolitis, the shortage of medicines, access to care, treating doctors, etc. », explains the pharmacist.

Contacted, the Ministry of Health defends its action and tells us it is considering “putting in place new communication actions to boost vaccination against influenza”. Next week, Health Insurance should further “encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated to take the plunge”.

15,000 patients hospitalized last year

On the side of Sanofi, which manufactures one of the flu vaccines administered, we assure that there is no stock problem. “It’s up to the French to mobilize! If there is no reaction, we risk dramatic consequences with saturated hospitals,” says Charles Wolf, head of the “Vaccines” branch of the French pharmaceutical group. Last year, more than 15,000 patients were hospitalized for flu or influenza-like illness, the majority of them elderly people.

“It is absolutely necessary that the public authorities launch a vaccination campaign, because mid-December will be too late,” urges Pierre-Olivier Variot. His colleague Philippe Besset agrees with him on the fact that “it is still possible to catch up with the trend”. “But it’s now, there are 15 days until December 15th! », he adds immediately. Then, as the end-of-year holidays approach, “people have their minds on other things”.

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