Adult vaccines in France: check here that you are protected

It is important to keep informed and stay up to date with your vaccines as an adult

Adults need vaccines from time to time
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One vaccine that is often overlooked as we get older is DTP: diphtheria, tetanus and polio. A compulsory vaccination at birth, it also needs to be renewed during your adult life, at the ages of 25, 45 and 65. 

If, for any reason, you didn't get your vaccination at 25, you can get a catch-up injection between the ages of 35 and 39. It is also recommended that everyone over the age of 65 gets the vaccine every 10 years. 

It is particularly important to check your DTP vaccination is up to date if you are pregnant (for each pregnancy), if you are aged 65 and over, and if you are likely to be exposed to swine flu or bird flu. If you are uncertain about whether you should have the vaccine, ask your doctor.


We usually think of shingles as the adult version of chickenpox, as it is caused by the same virus: varicella zoster. However, it’s a myth that you can’t get shingles if you have already had chickenpox, so it should be taken seriously. 

Known as le zona in French, shingles affects around 230,000 people each year in the country and is more common in those aged 50 and above. 

France’s national health authority specifically recommends a shingles vaccine for anyone aged 65 to 74, even if they have previously had chickenpox. Currently, fewer than 10% of people are vaccinated against shingles in France.

Ask your doctor for a prescription, pick up the vaccine from your pharmacy, then keep it at the required temperature (in your fridge) until it can be administered by a doctor or nurse. This vaccination is given in a single dose and it can also be given at the same time as your flu jab (see grippe below).

As reported in The Connexion in March, a new vaccine called Shingrix is under consideration, as it is more than 79% effective and can even be used on immunocompromised patients. However, as it costs around €200 per patient, it is not yet available for everyone.

Read more: Doctors concerned over low take-up of Covid and flu vaccines in France


Flu – or influenza – is known as la grippe in France, and it can be a serious illness for individuals with certain medical conditions or those who are weakened by other illnesses. 

According to public health guidelines, you should consider getting a flu jab if you are overweight, or if you have a pre-existing chronic illness. Nursing staff and those working with elderly people are also advised to have the flu vaccine every year, as is anyone in regular contact with people who are frail or vulnerable. 

This also applies if you’re in close contact with babies under six months old and you have risk factors such as heart disease, immune deficiency, lung disease, neurological or neuromuscular disease.

Depending on the variant of the virus, up to six million people have la grippe every year in France, usually between December and March, and it proves fatal for as many as 10,000 people. 

The flu jab protects you for between six and nine months, so it’s usually best to have this jab in the autumn. As with all vaccinations, check with your doctor to ensure you are up to date.