French flu jab campaign targets younger healthy people

Doctors this year are reminding younger people that getting the vaccination will offer maximum protection

The French annual flu vaccination campaign has reminded the public why it can be a good idea to get the jab, even if you are aged between 20-60 years old and in good health.

Usually, the vaccination campaign targets vulnerable people aged 65 and over; those who have compromised immune systems; or those with historic health problems - such as heart problems from childhood or other recent health issues - and offers free vaccinations for those in need.

However, it has also warned that other groups could benefit from the injection too, reports French news source 20 Minutes.

According to health agency Santé Publique France, every year, around 2.5 million people get flu in France, with 4,000-6,000 actually dying from the illness. Its symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, headache, fatigue, runny nose and a dry cough.

Rather than a bad cold, real flu can confine the sufferer to bed for up to two weeks - but is not usually considered to be a serious illness for normally-healthy people.

Yet, doctors this year are suggesting that younger people get the vaccination if they would like to give themselves maximum protection against the illness, which can cause serious disruption over the busy holiday period and stop you from working for several weeks.

Depending on your industry, it may be more cost-efficient to pay to have the vaccination - which, for those not in the high-risk categories, can cost a few euros - rather than risk weeks off work.

Similarly, vaccination can stop the spreading of severe strains of the virus, and therefore help the rest of the community too, some of which may be at higher risk of infection and complications.

Even those who are not in the at-risk sections of society are encouraged to get vaccinated, especially if they work with or live with anyone with a compromised immune system, or any especially young or ill children.

Pregnant women are also advised to get the vaccination, offering double protection not only to themselves but also to their baby for the first few months of its life, especially as a baby cannot be vaccinated itself until it is six months’ old. Vaccination is safe for pregnant women at any point in their pregnancy.

“It makes total sense for younger, healthy adults to take precautions and have the flu vaccination for mainly professional reasons,” explains Professor Daniel Floret, president of the vaccination committee Comité technique des vaccinations, speaking to 20 Minutes. “The flu strategy in France is about avoiding the most serious strains of the virus.”

“You’re protecting yourself but also others who may be more fragile,” adds Sylvie Behillil, of the national flu centre, Centre national de référence contre la grippe. “It is not too late for those who have not yet done it, because the flu epidemic for this year has not started yet.

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