Yasmina Kattou // PEAKSTOCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRAR / LDA / Science Photo Library via AFP 11:05 a.m., December 06, 2023

Three regions are already in the pre-epidemic phase on the territory, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Île-de-France and Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, and the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France is worried about a vaccination campaign in sharp decline, with 8% fewer injections delivered compared to last year.

The fear of hundreds of preventable flu deaths. In this month of December 2023, it is "600,000 doses of vaccines less (which) have been delivered by pharmacies compared to last year," says Philippe Besset, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France (FSPF). An 8% drop that raises fears among health professionals of a resurgence of hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks.

"A thousand hospitalizations and maybe 400 deaths" to be feared

In recent days, three regions have entered the pre-epidemic phase of seasonal influenza: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Île-de-France and Alpes-Côte-d'Azur. In anticipation of this planned pandemic, the State launched the vaccination campaign in mid-October for vulnerable people. At the same time last year, more than eight million doses had been distributed.

The good news is that it's not too late to get the serum yet. "We are in the last two weeks where getting vaccinated is very useful," Besset said. "The epidemic has not started yet. However, we see it starting in Rhône-Alpes and the Paris region, and there will be a great mixing of the population at Christmas. However, it takes 10 days of incubation for the vaccine to be effective. So you have to take advantage of these two weeks to get vaccinated. The holidays will be all the better for it," he continues.

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Because the consequences of under-vaccination could be terrible. According to the president of the FSPF, "if we base ourselves on an epidemic of the same magnitude as last year, this corresponds to a thousand more hospitalizations and perhaps 400 deaths." Every year, two to six million people are affected by seasonal influenza, which is "responsible for about 10,000 deaths each year," according to the Pasteur Institute.