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‘Flu jabs run low as more opt for vaccine

The Connexion, Dec 19

The number of people receiving ‘flu vaccinations in France is finally on the rise, with stocks of the jab running low again.

After several years of campaigning to increase the number of people receiving the jab, health minister Agnès Buzyn has confirmed that “the message is starting to get through”.

Nearly all of the vaccination stocks have been used, she said, but she encouraged people to get vaccinated anyway, as she is ordering more supplies to arrive as soon as possible.

The ‘flu season has not yet arrived this year, Ms Buzyn said, so there is “still time to get vaccinated” if you have not yet had the jab.

This year, the vaccination will not only protect against the ‘flu expected to hit France, but also against a ‘flu-like virus that is spreading in the southern hemisphere, she said.

In recent years, France has mounted anti-’flu campaigns from the month of October onwards, encouraging people to get the vaccination, and offering extra help for anyone concerned.

The vaccination is especially recommended for anyone aged 65 and over, anyone with a chronic illness - such as diabetes, heart or lung problems -; pregnant women; and the morbidly obese.

Yet, younger people can also benefit, as the illness can prove dangerous for everyone.

Similarly, a high level of immune protection among the healthy population can help protect those who cannot receive the vaccination due to health problems - known as “herd immunity”.

Ms Buzyn said: “This is the first time in France that we have almost used up all the vaccination stocks ordered for the French population. We had even increased the stocks by 10% [this year] compared to last year.

“I am trying to get more as quickly as possible, and will announce this as soon as new stocks arrive in the next few days. We should all be well protected.”

‘Flu can be deadly. In 2017-18, 13,000 people in France died from the illness, of which 85% were aged over 75.

Last year, the ‘flu season was especially long. It arrived early (in the first week of October, and there was a rise in the number of hospitalisations compared to previous years.

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