He has once again invited himself into the back-to-school calendar. Faced with the epidemic recovery, the government has decided to launch, on Monday 2 October, a new vaccination campaign against Covid-19, aimed at the most at-risk populations.

"The virus is circulating, each of us can see cases around him. The epidemic, it is there, "said mid-September to AFP the Minister of Health, Aurélien Rousseau, to justify this decision to finally accelerate the device.

Initially, the anti-Covid vaccination was to be carried out at the same time as the flu vaccination, from 17 October. Although the surveillance system for the virus has been considerably reduced, the rebound of the epidemic, confirmed by the few indicators still available, is beyond doubt.

Faced with this situation, the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipating Health Risks (Covars) recommended, in mid-September, "access to the vaccination booster as soon as possible".

This will mainly target people over 65 years old, fragile people, people with comorbidities, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes or people in contact with fragile people.

Any other person wishing a recall will be able to claim it free of charge, provided they respect a period of six months after their last injection or infection with Covid-19.

This vaccination can be carried out in the city, by a doctor, a pharmacist, but also a nurse, a midwife, or even a dentist.

"We do well to advance the recall campaign," especially to avoid overloading hospitals, said Étienne Simon-Lorière, virologist and head of the National Center for Respiratory Infections at the Institut Pasteur.

For this new campaign, messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, adapted to the XXB.1.5 variant (Omicron subvariant), which is widely used, are recommended as a first-line treatment, regardless of the vaccine previously administered. They should be more effective against the various variants currently circulating, including EG.5.1.

"The updated vaccines should make it possible to better target the variants circulating today, but other sub-lineages have already emerged since their conception," says Étienne Simon-Lorière.

In addition to vaccination, health authorities continue to recommend barrier measures, mainly in case of infection. But this message seems less heard, three and a half years after the beginning of the epidemic.

HPV vaccine in college

Another vaccination campaign launched on Monday, that against human papillomavirus (HPV), is entering the college, first for students in class 5e.

Long reserved for girls, this vaccine now also concerns boys. A necessary extension both to protect them from certain cancers and to hope ultimately to completely eliminate these diseases.

In France, HPV vaccination has been recommended for girls aged 11 to 14 years since 2007, and for boys of the same age since 2021. Each year, HPV is responsible for more than 6,000 new cases of cancer in France, most often of the cervix - which causes 1,100 deaths per year - of the vulva or vagina, but also of the ENT sphere, anus or penis.

A recent study published in The Lancet showed that, at some point, 31% of men over the age of 15 are infected with an HPV-like virus. More importantly, one in five men (21%) is a carrier of oncogenic HPV, which is a potential cause of cancer.

If the main affected are between 25 and 29 years old (35%), all sexually active men are "an important reservoir of genital HPV infections", continues the study.

"This meta-analysis of the Lancet confirms empirical and theoretical elements: the HPV virus is everywhere, it is extremely transmissible," Emmanuel Ricard, spokesman for the League against cancer and a public health doctor, told AFP in early September.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cited by The Lancet, about 69,400 cases of cancer in men caused by HPV were identified in 2018 worldwide.

Vaccinating boys therefore has a first obvious benefit: the injection protects them directly against cancers and warts of the anogenital sphere (penis and anus) for which the effectiveness of the vaccine is already established.

With AFP

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