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French flu jab campaign is brought forward for vulnerable groups

People who are most at risk from the virus will now be able to get their vaccine from October 22, four days earlier than planned

The start of the flu vaccination campaign has been brought forward to October 22 Pic: Adderly / Shutterstock

This year’s flu vaccination campaign is being brought forward by four days to start on October 22 for people who are most at risk from the virus. 

France’s government public health body Direction générale de la santé (DGS) notified pharmacists and doctors’ surgeries of the new start date on Monday through an “urgent” message.

“This year, in the midst of a situation where the Covid-19 and influenza viruses are both circulating, the risk of co-infection, of becoming seriously ill and dying,” is increased, it said.

The DGS is therefore eager to “encourage a synergy between the two vaccination campaigns and to waste no time in vaccinating the most vulnerable people against flu and against Covid.”

Care homes have already begun rolling out the flu vaccine, which pharmacists, doctors, nurses and midwives will be able to administer from Friday.

In 2020, lockdown restrictions, social distancing and hygiene measures meant that there was no major flu outbreak, and so this year very few people have significant immunity against the virus. 

Healthcare professionals are therefore concerned that this winter could see a “more intense” flu epidemic than normal. 

Groups who are eligible for the flu vaccination include: 

  • Over-65s

  • People who are immunosuppressed and their immediate entourage 

  • People who suffer from chronic health conditions

  • Obese people 

  • Pregnant women 

  • Healthcare professionals in regular contact with people who are at risk.

Around 18 million people in France will be invited to receive their vaccine between October 22 and November 22. 

Read more: When will the 2021 French flu vaccination campaign begin?

People who do not belong to one of the priority groups will still be able to receive the flu vaccine – although it may not be fully covered by Assurance maladie.  

The DGS may invite a second wave of people to receive the jab from November 23, although this timetable may be adapted depending on the efficacy of the campaign and the uptake of other priority groups. 

The healthcare quality regulator, Haute autorité de santé, has confirmed that it is safe to receive both the Covid and the flu vaccine on the same day: one jab in each arm. 

Related stories 

Map: Gastro outbreaks on rise in France - which areas are worst hit?

Safe to get Covid and flu jabs together says French health authority

France extends list of who qualifies for Covid booster jab

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