After Covid-19, flu alert... not to be taken lightly

After Covid-19, flu alert… not to be taken lightly

the essential
The flu epidemic for the 2022-2023 season is starting slowly in mainland France, but could be of high intensity as it has been in several countries in the southern hemisphere. Specialists recommend getting vaccinated against the flu from October 18… and not forgetting the reminders of the anti-Covid vaccination.

With the mild temperatures that have prolonged the summer in France in recent days, it would be easy to forget that the flu is back. “The measures implemented to slow the spread of Covid-19 during the pandemic have also contributed to reducing the burden of influenza. But with the lifting of most of these measures, the flu is back and should not be taken lightly,” the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday, October 5. “Influenza vaccines are safe and effectively reduce the number of severe cases and deaths, especially in the most vulnerable groups. So get a flu shot,” recommended Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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As a reminder, “about a billion people get seasonal flu each year and the threat of an influenza pandemic is permanent,” explains the WHO, which analyzes virus surveillance data produced by the Global Influenza Surveillance System and Response (GISRS) of the WHO. This global network of more than 150 laboratories in 127 countries, areas or territories also celebrates 70me anniversary of its creation. Every year, there are 5 million cases of serious illness and 290,000 to 650,000 deaths according to the WHO.

2 to 6 million cases of influenza per year in France

In France, where the flu affects between 2 and 6 million people each year, the seasonal flu epidemic remains weak for the time being in early autumn. In its first weekly flu surveillance bulletin, published this Wednesday, Public Health France presented a map of France all green, that is, with the “no alarm” level. The incidence rate of consultations for flu syndrome, established by the Sentinelles network, is 76 per 100,000 inhabitants. Influenza syndromes currently represent 1.9% of SOS Médecins medical acts and less than 1% of visits to the emergency room according to a count by the Oscour system. The number of positive samples for influenza identified is 3 (2.8%) in the surveillance framework in ambulatory medicine of the Sentinel network and 22 (0.5%) in hospital laboratories notified to the National Reference Center (CNR) of respiratory viruses.

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Abroad, on the other hand, Public Health France noted that Réunion entered the epidemic phase of influenza the week of September 26. In Martinique, city and hospital influenza surveillance indicators increased considerably that week with active circulation of influenza viruses (28% hospital positivity rate). In Guadeloupe, the city’s vigilance indicators have been increasing for two weeks.

Seasonal Flu Update

Although influenza vaccination coverage in 2021-2022 was higher than in 2019-2020, it was lower than in 2020-2021. Therefore, the authorities call on the population to get vaccinated. “It’s been two years since we had a strong flu epidemic and therefore our general immunity against the flu has probably decreased,” Professor Brigitte Autran, president of the Risk Monitoring and Anticipation Committee (Covars that happened to the Covid-19 Scientific Council). The specialist “greatly” encourages vaccination against the flu, as well as against Covid, whose reminder campaign for the most fragile populations was launched on October 3, with new vaccines adapted to the variants.

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The flu vaccination campaign begins on October 18

The professor of immunology Alain Fischer, the government’s “Mister vaccine”, shares this analysis and estimated on September 28 in the parisian that “there is a serious risk of a flu epidemic”, underlining that “a flu-Covid coexistence is not to rejoice”; especially since the flu epidemic that has already hit the southern hemisphere has been virulent, particularly in New Zealand and South Africa. Professor Fischer also strongly recommends the double injection of the covid and flu vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccination campaign will begin on October 18 in pharmacies and will be reserved until November 15 for people at risk (people 65 years of age or older, people under 65 with certain chronic diseases, pregnant women, people obese, around children under 6 months) people at risk and immunosuppressed, health professionals, etc.).

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