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Vaccination call as France's flu season nears

More than 90% of the 10,000 or so people who die of flu every year in France are aged 65 or over

The government has urged vulnerable people to make an appointment for a flu vaccine as it gears up for the launch of the annual inoculation campaign in October.

Here, we answer several questions about the flu, and the vaccine.

When is the annual flu season

In metropolitan France, the annual influenza season starts in November and can run until April. It is at its height, generally, for about 11 weeks from late December or early January.

Health authorities estimated that up to 4.6million people visited their doctor while displaying flu symptoms last year. Between 25% and 50% of those consultations were for children under the age of 15.

How contagious is influenza?

It is not as contagious as Covid-19 but can be transmitted in a similar way - through respiratory droplets in the air caused by sneezing or coughing, as well as by touching contaminated objects - and can be limited by similar hygiene measures, such as regular hand-washing.

What are the symptoms?

Seasonal flu usually announces itself with a sudden high fever, intense fatigue, aches and pains, and headaches. It shares fever and cough symptoms with coronavirus, and some Covid-19 patients will also experience nasal congestion and sore throats. Headaches and muscle soreness are more usually associated with flu.

Who should be vaccinated?

Some two to eight million people in France are affected by seasonal flu every year. More than 90% of the 10,000 or so people who die of flu every year in France are aged 65 or over. Health authorities recommend they are vaccinated as a priority.

Pregnant women, people with certain chronic illnesses and those who are obese should also consider having a vaccine; as should those staying in healthcare facilities. Medical professionals or those in regular contact with at-risk individuals, and the families of children aged six months or under are also encouraged to be vaccinated.

When are vaccinations available?

The vaccination campaign proper launches on October 13, and injections can be administered by your GP, a doctor at a vaccination centre, a nurse, or pharmacist. It is free for those in at-risk groups and costs between €6.20 and €11.13 for those who have to pay with a 65% reimbursement rate.

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