Flu vaccine opens to all adults in France: What you need to know

France opened up its seasonal flu vaccine campaign to all eligible ages on Tuesday.

Flu vaccine opens to all adults in France: What you need to know
A pharmacist vaccinates a patient against the seasonal flu in Paris (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

The flu vaccine became available to everyone in France on Tuesday November 15th, without the need for prescription for those over 16 years old.

The original campaign began on October 18th, and was intended to target the most at-risk groups, namely people over the age of 65, pregnant women and those suffering from conditions that might make them immunocompromised, such as asthma.

Those at-risk for potentially severe forms of influenza should have been contacted by French health authorities (Assurance Maladie) to be encouraged to get their free flu vaccination, in addition to a Covid-19 booster shot, if eligible.

READ MORE: When, where and how to get the flu vaccine in France

As of November 15th, the vaccine became available to all other groups, without need of prescription. For minors under the age of 16, the vaccine is available, but a prescription prior to vaccination is still required.

Keep in mind that the flu vaccine is not entirely reimbursed by health Insurance for those outside of priority groups. Those who are not deemed at-risk will need to pay a small fee – typically between €6 and €10.

The national campaign will continue until January 31st, 2023, and those interested in getting their flu shot can do so with via a doctor, nurse, midwife or directly in a pharmacy. In a pharmacy the vaccine is administered by the pharmacist.

For people with a history of severe allergic reactions either to ovalbumin or to a previous vaccination, the shot will not be able to be administered by a nurse or pharmacist.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

While the flu vaccine is not required, it is encouraged. Influenza impacts between two to six million people in France each winter. 

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France declares epidemic as flu cases soar

The French health authority has declared a flu epidemic, while the country also faces a new wave of Covid cases and bronchitis is affecting young children.

France declares epidemic as flu cases soar

Santé publique France made the declaration of an epidemic on Wednesday, adding that three deaths have been recorded due to flu, while 20 patients are in intensive care.

With Covid-19 and bronchitis cases also currently high, health experts have urged people to get vaccinated – especially those over 65. “It is important for people at risk to be vaccinated against flu without delay,” insisted Santé publique France.

READ ALSO Flu vaccine opens to all adults in France: What you need to know

Cases have hit full epidemic levels in Brittany and Normandy, while the virus is in pre-epidemic phase in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Grand Est, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Centre-Val de Loire, Hauts-de-France and Île-de-France, with an increasing number of people heading to hospitals’ emergency departments with influenza-like illness. It is expected to cross over to epidemic levels in the coming days and weeks.

READ ALSO French PM calls on commuters to wear masks as Covid cases rise

It has already hit French overseas territories including Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion.

Flu has hit epidemic levels much earlier than last season, when it did not peak until early Spring.