The flu epidemic will be “quite virulent”, say health professionals

“Virulent”. This is the word chosen by health professionals to describe the seasonal flu epidemic, already underway in certain regions.

It was first the Minister of Health, François Braun, who used this qualifier, Sunday November 20, 2022, before the president of the Union of Unions of Community Pharmacists (Uspo) Pierre-Olivier Variot, make the same prediction franceinfo this Wednesday.

The pharmacist explains that this forecast is based “on what happened in the southern hemisphere”. There, the flu was “violent”, he explains.

Read also: Flu, cold, gastro… Will we be sicker this winter?

Five regions in the pre-epidemic phase

Several epidemic foci have already been identified in France. “The indicators of the arrival of the flu have started to light up in Brittany”, passed into the pre-epidemic phase at the beginning of November, underlined in particular the Minister of Health on RTL. Center-Val-de-Loire, Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France and Normandy have entered the pre-epidemic phase this week, according to the latest bulletin from Public Health France, published this week. November 23.

Last week was marked by a “increase in all influenza indicators”, summarized the health agency in its weekly report.

One of the causes of this potential virulence is, according to Pierre-Olivier Variot, the slightest observation of barrier gestures. “We can see that these reflexes tend to disappear”, explains the health professional, who recalls that “It’s been two years since the flu was almost non-existent”.

Vaccination delay

The president of the Uspo also recognizes a “some weariness” of the population in the face of these barrier gestures and vaccination, including against the flu. This indeed accuses a “significant delay” compared to last year, according to a statement from the Uspo. “It’s a bit of a disaster”, even claimed toAFP Philippe Besset, president of the FSPF, the leading pharmacists’ union.

The Minister of Health nevertheless wanted to ensure that the health system will be able to “support the arrival of the flu if everyone does their part (and) if the most vulnerable people get vaccinated”. As of November 18, just over 7 million doses of vaccine had been injected, compared to 8.6 million last year.

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