“My last vaccine? Apart from the Covid-19, no idea! “… Many adults skip their booster shots

A “uh…”. Followed by a long silence of intense cogitation, cut by a “no idea”. To the question “when was your last vaccine (excluding Covid-19), and which one was it? », Sarah, Damien and Anna formulated exactly the same answer. Apart from their anti-Covid booster dose, no one remembers their last vaccine. And they are not alone. Many French women and men do not know if they are up to date with their vaccinations, and therefore potentially not.

However, reminders must be made throughout life, to ensure individual and collective immunity against many diseases. When should they be done? Against which diseases? On the occasion of European Vaccination Week, 20 minutes stick your nose in your vaccination record.

“The further we get from childhood, the less we get vaccinated”

If from birth, toddlers are subject to a vaccination obligation and are subject to rigorous monitoring, many adults do not follow the schedule. “Patients often consider that vaccination is the domain of children, and then they are safe for life,” observes Dr. Jean-Louis Bensoussan, general practitioner and general secretary of the MG France union.

“Already, booster vaccinations for children at 6 and 11 years old are at correct rates but lower than the primary vaccination for toddlers, underlines Professor Daniel Floret, vice-president of the Technical Commission for Vaccinations of Haute Health Authority (HAS). And the further we go from childhood, the less we get vaccinated.

A trend that it is currently not possible to quantify precisely. “In adults, we have no data. We have a surveillance system which makes it possible to follow the vaccination of children, but nothing in adults, explains Professor Floret. So the little we know is that people are often not up to date, they don’t know where they are, they can’t remember when and against what disease they were vaccinated. And it often happens that the attending physician does not have a complete file. This represents a real public health problem”.

“A notebook of what? »

Especially since “many do not have a vaccination record”. “A notebook of what? “, resumes Adeline. If the 30-year-old kept the health record given to her parents when she was only a little baby, she was unaware of the existence of this vaccination record, supposed to take over from the vaccination follow-up for adults. “However, it has existed for a long time, even in an electronic version, which would facilitate monitoring if it were then put in place in the shared medical file. [sorte de carnet de santé numérique]. But rare are the patients who seize it and update it, since only they can fill it”. On the other hand, like Adeline, “some patients keep their health record and have it updated by their doctor, which is also good,” adds Dr. Bensoussan.

After leafing through her notebook, Adeline remembers that she did all her vaccination reminders in 2010, “when preparing for a trip to India, I redid the total. Ah, and also a whooping cough reminder in 2012, she reads. I didn’t remember anymore”. Moreover, “if it has not been done, a whooping cough booster is recommended for future parents, to protect the unborn child,” says Dr. Bensoussan. Paul was prescribed this vaccine by his partner’s gynecologist two years ago, when a baby project was mentioned. “She came back from her consultation and handed me the prescription, then I went to get vaccinated at my GP”.

At 49, Sandrine remembers her very last vaccine in her head: “It was five, six years ago, when I started my activity as a childminder. I had to do a DTP reminder (diphtheria, tetanus, polio), it’s mandatory for early childhood professionals. I also discovered it at that time. But before that, it must go back to adolescence, ”she replies, unsure of herself. Ditto for Sarah: “I don’t know anymore, I think I was a teenager”. And Paul: “apart from the whooping cough reminder, I have no idea when my last one was, or what disease it was”.

A reminder at 25, 45, 65

However, “many vaccines require regular booster shots to be effective. In particular the DTP, insists Professor Floret. It used to be every ten years, but the immunity conferred is longer, and people hardly ever remembered the date.” Since 2013, the recommendations have therefore evolved. From now on, “there are key ages at which these reminders must be made: 25, 45 and 65 years old. Then every ten years after age 65, because we know that immunity decreases with age,” adds Dr. Bensoussan. In practice, “advocating a booster shot at a specific age is more effective, the doctor can remind his patients that they have reached the age at which they must do their booster shot”, notes Professor Floret.

In addition, “at 25, the recall also concerns whooping cough, continues the vaccination specialist. And if you have not been vaccinated against meningococcal C meningitis, it is strongly recommended that you do so. If in doubt, take stock with your doctor and then don’t forget to have your vaccinations recorded in your notebook,” he prescribes. What if you’re not up to date? “It is not necessary to start all over again, it is enough to resume the vaccination at the stage where it was interrupted”, he reassures.

Then, “from the age of 65, you are eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine every year, remind Professor Floret and Dr Bensoussan together. And finally, if it is little known and relatively little administered, the vaccine against shingles is recommended for all patients between 65 and 75 years old”.

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