French MPs call for mass 'flu vaccination this winter
Seventy-five MPs have called for more people to get 'flu vaccinations in France this winter to help prevent the illness “clashing” with the Covid-19 epidemic.
The MPs, all from the LREM party, published the letter in news source Le Journal du Dimanche yesterday (September, 20).
The 'flu is the cause of around 10,000 deaths in France each winter. This year MPs are worried that the combination of the 'flu and the Covid-19 health pandemic could cause serious complications in French hospitals.
Julien Borowczyk, MP for the Loire (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) and main author of the letter wrote: “As winter approaches there is a great risk that we will see a clash between Covid-19 and the 'flu.
“This epidemic cohabitation could prove to be harmful, leading to delays in diagnoses, causing complications in vulnerable people, and resulting in a flood of sick people in hospitals.”
He described getting the 'flu vaccine this winter as an "act of citizenship". According to the MP, the best way to “limit the consequences of Covid-19” is “systemic prevention” of the 'flu through vaccination, combined with continued use of social distancing measures in France.
'Flu vaccine available now, unlike Covid-19 vaccine
While Covid-19 vaccinations are still being developed around the world, including in France, most are still in the testing stage. The World Health Organisation has said it doesn’t expect a Covid-19 vaccine to be available before mid-2021.
By contrast, the MPs wrote that French health minister Olivier Véran has ordered 13 million doses of 'flu vaccination in preparation for this winter - an increase on previous years. Consequently, they have suggested that people in France can best protect their health now by getting 'flu vaccines, which are widely available.
They wrote: “We are all waiting for the vaccination against coronavirus. Let’s make the most of the vaccinations we already have, as they are our closest allies in the fight against viruses.”
The letter also suggested that private health insurers (mutuelles) should cover the cost of 'flu vaccinations for all people in France. Currently, they are only reimbursed for people aged over 65, or at particular risk from the 'flu, by the French national health service.
All of the signatories of the letter say they will get vaccinated against the 'flu this year.