Two million extra flu doses ordered in France

A total of 16 million doses have been ordered in France - two million more than previous years, amid ongoing rising cases.

13 October 2020
A woman getting a vaccination. Two million extra flu doses ordered in FranceThe flu vaccine gives a six in ten chance of not developing the flu virus.
By Joanna York

A government campaign to encourage flu vaccination begins today (October 13) in France, with two million extra vaccines being ordered this year.

In total, 16 million flu doses are available in France for the 2020-21 winter flu season, with experts hoping extra flu vaccinations will relieve pressure on hospitals treating patients with Covid-19. Globally, a record number of flu vaccines have been produced this year.

Each year in France 2-6million people are infected with the flu. In each of the past three years 10,000-15,000 people have died from the flu virus.

Read more: France flu jab season: A guide to getting vaccinated

Flu vaccinations recommended to help fight Covid

The government and medical practitioners are encouraging more people to get the flu jab this year as winter flu season approaches, amidst the ongoing Covid-19 health pandemic.

They hope protecting more people against the flu will ease pressure on hospitals and Covid testing centres. 

Dr Matthieu Calafiore, general practitioner and lecturer at Lille university, told news source Le Figaro: “[The flu jab] is not an infallible protection. In the best cases it has a 60% success rate which means if you are vaccinated and you encounter the flu you have a six in 10 chance of not developing an infection. It puts luck on your side.”

 

Difference between Covid, flu and cold symptoms ‘complicated’

As winter approaches, differentiating between the flu, common colds and Covid-19 could become difficult, as the flu shares many symptoms with Covid-19 and common colds. Symptoms such as a cough, fever and headache are common among all three illnesses.

Dr Calafiore said: “In terms of clinical signs there is not much difference. The next few months are going to be complicated.”

For example, the absence of a fever might indicate that a patient has a cold, rather than Covid or the flu. But some circumstances, fever can also accompany a cold, in which case Dr Calafiore says the illness “generally lasts a short time, less than 24 hours”.

Flu fevers are also distinctive, as Dr Calafiore explains: “The flu means a strong fever with a typical pattern. A 40C fever for three days followed by a lower temperature for one day, then a return to 40C for three days.” 

When it comes to Covid-19, fever is a common symptom, although Dr Calafiore points out: “You can have Covid without actually having a fever.”

Loss of smell and difficulty breathing not associated with colds

Symptoms such as muscle pain and diarrhoea are likely to indicate Covid or the flu rather than a cold. Difficulty breathing is also not associated with colds, as Dr Calafiore says: “With a cold there are generally no effects on the bronchial tubes.”

Another significant symptom indicating the presence of Covid-19 is loss of smell. Dr Calafiore explains: “Headaches seem a little more frequent among patients with Covid, but the symptom that distinguishes without doubt between Covid, the flu and colds is the loss of smell.”

Le Figaro has created a guide to the different symptoms associated with colds, flu and Covid-19. Different symptoms are rated as courant (common), frequent (frequent), occasionnellement (occasional), rare (rare), absence de symptoms (no symptoms) according to each illness.

 (Photo: Le Figaro / Screenshot)

Assume Covid infection, unless proven otherwise 

However, while symptoms can indicate which illness a person may have, they cannot provide a clear diagnosis. Taking a Covid test is still the most reliable method of establishing whether or not a person has the Covid-19 virus.

As such, anyone with symptoms that they suspect could be Covid should act with caution.

Dr Calafiore says: “Until proven otherwise, people who present with symptoms should consider themselves infected with Covid-19 by default. At the first sign of an infectious virus, sick people should isolate and consult a doctor face-to-face, online or by telephone in order to organise a Covid-19 test. 

"Saying that it doesn’t matter and continuing to live normally is taking the risk of spreading the virus.”

Barrier measures such as frequent hand washing also prevent the spread of colds and flu.

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