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Flu, Covid, bronchiolitis: latest update on viruses in France

‘Viruses remain at a high level’, said the public health authority. It advises people to get vaccinated and wear a mask although indicators show a drop in cases

An older man wearing a mask being comforted by a nurse

Most indicators for flu, bronchiolitis, and Covid are down, SPF said, but it still advised people to get a vaccination and wear masks in enclosed places to prevent the spread Pic: Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock

The ‘triple epidemics’ of flu, Covid, and bronchiolitis are continuing to affect most of France, although most indicators of the illnesses are dropping, the latest figures show.

The figures come from health authority Santé publique France’s most recent weekly epidemic update (published on January 17, for the dates January 8-14).

The lowering figures are broadly good news, after hospitals reported feeling overloaded with cases at the end of last year (2023), prompting some to enact the ‘plan blanc’ to cope.

Read more: Covid, flu, bronchiolitis: overloaded French hospitals on ‘plan blanc’ 

Flu

“Flu viruses remain at a high level, despite a drop in positive [cases] at GPs and in hospitals”, said SPF.

However, signs of the epidemic - which SPF calls ‘indicators’ - were generally on the decline, the authority said, except among children aged 0-4. It warned that this could “also be seen in other age groups in the weeks to come”.

All of France is now in the ‘epidemic’ stage for flu, except Normandy and Brittany, although these regions are in the ‘pre-epidemic’ phase and expected to hit ‘epidemic’ status shortly.

Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis, another respiratory condition that mainly affects infants, is on the decline after cases peaked over a month ago, said SPF.

"SOS Médecins [at home] intervention, emergency room visits, and hospital admissions after a GP visit for bronchiolitis in children under the age of two were down [for the sixth consecutive week],” it said.

And while four regions of mainland France are still experiencing a bronchiolitis epidemic (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Corsica, Occitanie, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), seven are no longer considered to be epidemic areas.

Covid

Covid-19 is “still actively circulating”, SPF said, but has been declining over the past few weeks, both in GP surgeries and in hospitals.

Calls for vaccination and masks

Against this backdrop, and with weeks of winter still to come, the health authority continues to advise the most at-risk people to be vaccinated against flu and Covid. 

It also calls for people to wear a mask in the event of symptoms, in crowded places and in the presence of vulnerable people, wash their hands and air enclosed spaces regularly.

So far, just under a third of eligible people in France aged 65 and over have received a Covid booster vaccine since the autumn campaign began. 

Similarly, a third of Covid vaccinations have been given at the same time as a flu vaccination. It is still possible to have both jabs at the same time (one in each arm) for added protection.

Since last year, experts have been concerned about this low take-up in vaccinations. 

Even if you are in an ‘at-risk’ category, you are still able to voluntarily have a vaccination for flu, although you may have to buy the vaccine (€6 to €12 depending on the brand). You can ask a doctor, pharmacist, nurse or midwife to administer the vaccination. 

The price of a vaccination for people not targeted by the winter flu campaign is:

  • In a pharmacy: €7.50 
  • By a nurse: €7.56
  • By a doctor: €8.50 (the €25 consultation is reimbursed 70% for vaccinations)
  • By a midwife: €8.50

Related articles

Doctors concerned over low take-up of Covid and flu vaccines in France
SEE: Covid cases in France at highest level for two years
French pharmacies can prescribe and give vaccines: we explain which

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