In France an influenza vaccination campaign is carried out by the health authorities between the months of October and January.
National health insurance invites the persons targeted by the recommendations of the Public Health Council to be vaccinated by sending them a printed voucher allowing them to have this done free of charge. The people covered are especially the over 65s, persons suffering from certain long term diseases, persons suffering from asthma or from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (1).
The doctors also have a voucher available allowing them to prescribe the vaccine to those at risk who have not received a vaccination voucher such as pregnant women.
During the vaccination campaign period the vaccine is completely free of charge for all populations at risk who have a vaccination voucher. The French Public Health Act has set a vaccination target for the population at risk of 75%. This target is not reached in France. Vaccination coverage has even been in decline since 2009.
The IAS® estimates the vaccination coverage rate for the 65s and over. For this age group and for a given campaign, influenza vaccine purchases starting from September and correlated to the population on the preceding 1st January (INSEE data). The vaccine sales data comes from retail pharmacies panel representing the 22,265 pharmacies in mainland France. The data is sent anonymously and automatically and published on D+1.
This data is available from 2008 onwards. The correlation coefficient between the OpenHealth.fr and CNAMTS estimates is 98.9% for the over 65s for the 2009/2010 to 2012/2013 campaigns.
The immunization coverage for those aged over 65 has been this season almost the same as last year (very slight decrease, from 52.6 to 52.2%). The earlier start of the immunization campaign was not enough to reverse the downward trend observed for several years.
A poorly conducted immunization campaign ?
As of 11 December, the level of immunization coverage for those aged 65 and over was estimated to be 50 % whereas last year it was 51% on the same date. Indeed, the immunization campaign started a few days earlier this year compared with last year (on 5 October instead of 11th). This lead of a few days has therefore been lost; this can be seen on the graph by the crossing of the curves which occurred on 5 November. Without specific incentive measures, the fear is therefore that immunization coverage at the end of the campaign will be even lower than that of last year. In fact, every year most vaccine purchases are made during the first weeks of the campaign and until now no significant rebound has been seen after mid-November. To be monitored therefore.
Launch of the vaccination campaign 2016-2017
As is the case every year, the public authorities have set up a flu vaccination campaign. This year the campaign runs from 6th October 2016 to 31st January 2017. Vaccination is free for people over 65 years, people suffering from certain long term illnesses, people suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, pregnant women, people with an BMI greater than, or equal to, 40 and the families of babies under 6 months old, presenting certain risk factors.
For the third consecutive year, the OpenHealth IAS can be used to track, in almost real time, developments in the vaccination cover of people aged 65 and over. The graph is up-dated every day. Specifically, one can track the level of vaccination over the course of the very first weeks of the campaign, during which most vaccinations generally take place.
End of the 2015-2016 vaccination campaign
Now that the vaccination campaign has ended with the month of February, the vaccine coverage of the 65 and over age group (the main group at risk) is estimated to be 53%, or 2 points less than last year at the same period, and a long way off the 75% target. Vaccination was concentrated in the first weeks of the campaign, in October and November. The extension of the vaccination campaign into February had very little effect.
3 points less than last year at the same date
On 23rd January 2016, immunization coverage for those aged 65 and over (the main risk group) was estimated to be 52%, or three points less than last year at the same date, and a long way off the 75% target. Given the vaccination dynamics, which are concentrated from October to the beginning of December every year, it is highly likely that this rate will not budge until the end of the vaccination campaign. The high health impact of the 2014-2015 winter epidemic was not enough to encourage persons at risk.
Launch of the flu vaccination campaign on 13th October 2015
In France, the flu vaccination campaign has officially began on 13th October 2015 and should end on 31st January 2016. As previously, both the "first time vaccination" and "repeat vaccination" procedures will be maintained. Vaccination is recommended, and is free of charge, for the over 65s, people suffering from chronic illnesses, pregnant women and people suffering from obesity. This year, the WHO recommends one A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09 strain, one A/Hong Kong/4801/2014(H3N2) strain, and one Brisbane/60/2008 strain for the trivalent vaccine. For tetravalent vaccines, the WHO recommends the addition of the B/Phuket/3073/2013 strain.