The low frequency of vaccination against influenza this year “is probably explained by the fatigue of the population, who are constantly talking about the vaccine”, an infection specialist told BFMTV.
The capital region of France is increasingly threatened by seasonal flu, health authorities reported on Wednesday, with the epidemic announcing early in a health context already complicated by a persistent Covid and an outbreak of bronchiolitis.
Last week was marked by an “increase in all indicators of influenza”, summarized in a weekly report from the public health agency France. This trend concerned all age groups, while it was more marked among those under 15.
“It will be very tough this year, so it is important to renew your vaccine,” said Philippe Besset, president of the FSPF, the first trade union in the profession.
“Very difficult” to catch up with “backlog”
On Monday, the two main pharmacists’ unions said seasonal flu vaccination is “significantly late” compared to last year.
“It’s a bit of a disaster this year”, Philippe Besset already confirmed. Especially since this decline mainly concerns “priority” target groups (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 “lag” without a “substantial communication campaign”.
With BFMTV, infection 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 it with the fatigue of the population, who are constantly talking about the vaccine. We are coming out of several waves of the Covid-19 pandemic: there is a mental connection, and in fact it is becoming very complicated.” , he says.
The fear of a “triple epidemic”
In absolute terms, the number of cases is still low on the French mainland and it is (at the moment) not likely to put the health system in immediate difficulty. But their increase is sharp: Consultations for flu-like illness have thus increased by two-thirds compared to the week before, and the number of visits to the emergency room for flu or flu-like symptoms by 39%.
However, the health system is already facing an epidemic of bronchiolitis in babies, on a scale not seen for many years, and the ongoing pressure from Covid, for which hospital admissions have rebounded in recent days.
This triple epidemic situation has already taken hold in the United States, where flu-related hospitalizations have reached their highest level in a decade.
“In this context, it is strongly recommended that people at risk and healthcare workers be vaccinated without delay against seasonal influenza”, confirmed Public Health France.