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France urges women to report menstrual changes after Covid jabs

French health authorities have invited women who suspect their menstrual cycles were affected by Covid-19 vaccines to report any changes on a government website.

France urges women to report menstrual changes after Covid jabs
A syringe and a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

The suggestion from the National Medicine Safety Agency (ANSM) is part of efforts to probe possible side-effects of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which have been administered 70 million doses to women in France.

In a statement late Tuesday, the ANSM urged women to give “as much detailed information as possible in the declaration form” which has been made available on the health ministry’s website.

It said that menstrual changes had already been reported to doctors by around 11,000 women, mostly involving “non-serious” symptoms including erratic periods, or bleeding that was heavier or weaker than usual.

These were mostly short-term effects that appeared after being jabbed, but no firm link has been confirmed.

Research published last week in the journal Science Advances found that 42 percent of respondents to a survey reported heavier periods after vaccination.

It also found that some postmenopausal women and transgender men on gender-affirming hormones reported unexpected bleeding.

The survey of 39,000 people was conducted by researchers at the US-based University of Illinois and Washington University School of Medicine in April 2021.

Separate research using data from nearly 4,000 individuals by the Oregon Health & Science University showed in January that on average vaccinated women had a slight delay of almost a day in the onset of their period compared to the unvaccinated.

The slight increase in menstrual cycle length was not judged to be clinically significant, according to the lead author who published her findings in “Obstetrics & Gynecology.”

Reports of menstrual changes were seized on by people opposed to the Covid-19 vaccination programmes implemented in many countries last year.

Experts say misinformation was rampant on social media.

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HEALTH

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

Experts have warned of a particularly bad flu epidemic this winter in France due to a combination of lowered immune systems and 'vaccine apathy' - urging high-risk groups to get their shot as soon as the flu vaccination campaign begins in October.

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

France’s annual flu vaccine campaign will officially get under way on October 18th this year – and medical experts have warned that this year’s season may be a bad one amid fears of “vaccine apathy”.

When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters in France this autumn

Immunologist Alain Fischer, who chaired France’s Conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale throughout the Covid-19 pandemic said that the high number of flu cases in Australia and the southern hemisphere in its winter were “a warning sign” that this winter’s flu, coupled with rising cases of Covid-19, could lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations again in the winter.

“For two years, influenza has been kept at bay, thanks to the barrier measures we have put in place against Covid,” he told Le Parisien. 

“This year, it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distancing, intensive hand washing … Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of flu epidemic.”

Between two million and six million people contract flu every winter in France. The infection is responsible for between 4,000 and 6,000 deaths every year, usually among people aged 65 and over. But in ‘bad’ flu years, that mortality figure can rise rapidly.

READ ALSO When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

The country, meanwhile, is at the start of what is being described as an “eighth wave” of Covid, and the Haute Autorité de santé recommends the eligible, vulnerable people ensure they are vaccinated against both viruses as early as possible. “A Covid-flu cohabitation is not a good thing,”  Fischer said. “It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalisations. 

“Hence the objective of two strong vaccination campaigns – Covid and flu – especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The double injection is very good, and practical for patients. But I think that we should not wait, especially vulnerable people. It is a mistake to think that you will get your Covid booster when the flu vaccine is here – the Covid jab should not be delayed.”

Currently less than 40 percent of people eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine have received their latest dose.

Dual-strain Covid-19 vaccines designed to combat both delta and omicron variants will be available in France from October 3rd.

READ ALSO France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

“It is quite possible to get your Covid injection in early October and flu vaccine in late October – you will need both anyway,” Fischer said.

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups:

  • people aged 65 and over; 
  • people with chronic diseases; 
  • pregnant women;
  • people suffering from obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m 2 );
  • Infants under 6 months at risk of serious influenza;
  • Families and others close to immunocompromised people; 
  • home help workers caring for vulnerable individuals.

For anyone in these groups, the flu vaccine is 100 percent covered by health insurance and delivered free of charge to the pharmacy, on presentation of a voucher.

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