As the winter months approach, France rolls out its annual flu vaccination programme. So, who is eligible for a free flu shot, how can you get the vaccine, and can it be combined with your Covid booster? Here’s what you need to know about flu vaccines in France.
Who is eligible for the flu vaccine in France?
French residents over 65 years old and those with eligible health conditions can receive an annual flu shot in France. Flu vaccines are covered under France’s state health insurance, meaning that all eligible persons with a Carte Vitale can receive the shot for free.
Those eligible for a free flu vaccine in France include:
- People aged 65 and over
- People under 65 with certain chronic diseases and long-term health conditions (if in doubt, you should talk to your doctor to find out if you qualify)
- Pregnant women
- People with obesity
- Healthcare workers
- Caregivers and workers looking after young children or the elderly
- Professionals exposed to swine and avian influenza viruses
How do I get my free flu shot?
If you are eligible for a flu vaccine, you will typically be sent a voucher by post – you can take this voucher to the pharmacy to pick up your vaccine.
If you haven’t received a voucher, if it’s your first time receiving a flu shot in France, or if you are unsure whether you are eligible, you should contact your médecin traitant (your doctor/GP). They will be able to provide you with the voucher.
Getting vaccinated in France
If it’s your first time getting vaccinated in France, you might be surprised to find that things are done a bit differently from how you are used to. In France, it is the responsibility of the patient (i.e. you!) to pick up the vaccine from the pharmacy and bring it to your appointment with you. Don’t forget, as the nurse will be unable to administer the vaccine without it!
Once you have your free flu vaccine voucher, this serves as a prescription – take this to the pharmacy to pick up your shot. You can pick the vaccine up at any time before your vaccination appointment, but be aware that it must be kept refrigerated. However, there’s nothing stopping you from picking it up the week before at a time that is convenient, then storing it in your fridge at home until your appointment date.
You will also be responsible for booking your vaccination appointment, either directly with the doctor or nurse, or online via Doctolib. In France, you can receive a vaccination from any doctor, midwife, nurse, or pharmacist (for under 16s or those with certain allergies, the vaccination will have to be administered by a doctor or midwife). Most people find it easiest to book directly with their local pharmacy (some smaller pharmacies may not offer vaccination services, so be sure to check) or with the doctor or nurse at their médecin traitant practice.
When can I receive my flu shot in 2022?
Vaccines are available to the abovementioned at-risk groups from Tuesday, October 18th, 2022.
Flu vaccines in France: FAQ
Should I get the flu vaccine?
The general advice is that anyone in the above-mentioned at-risk groups should receive a flu vaccine. While a flu vaccine does not eliminate the risk of catching the flu, vaccines are estimated to reduce the risk of needing to visit the doctor with the flu by 40-60%, and studies1 have shown that vaccinated patients were 26% less likely to be admitted to ICU and 31% less likely to die.
If you are in doubt about receiving the vaccine, we highly recommend speaking to your doctor and following their advice.
Can I get a flu vaccine in France if I’m not eligible?
Flu vaccines are currently only available to the high-risk groups, but from November 15th, 2022, the vaccines will also be available to the general population. From then on, anyone who wishes to receive a flu vaccine may opt to do so.
However, it’s important to note that flu vaccines for the general population are not covered by France’s state health insurance. The cost may be covered or partially covered by your Mutuelle health insurance, but this will depend on your policy. Typically a flu shot costs between €6 and €10, depending on the pharmacy.
Can I get a flu vaccine in France if I don’t have a Carte Vitale?
If you aren’t registered with France’s healthcare system, you will only be able to receive the vaccine when it opens up to the general public (from November 15th). You will also need to pay for the vaccine, as detailed in the question above. However, there is nothing to stop a person without a Carte Vitale from receiving the flu vaccine.
Can I receive my Covid booster shot and flu vaccine together?
The latest dual-strain Covid-19 booster vaccine has been available to high-risk groups since the beginning of October. If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, you will also be eligible for the Covid-19 booster, and the government has recommended that the vaccines be administered together.
If you choose to do this, note that two separate vaccines will still be issued – one in each arm – but you will be able to receive both during a single appointment.
Everything You Need to Know About Healthcare in France
From understanding the French state healthcare system and visiting a doctor to choosing a mutuelle insurance and dealing with your and your family’s health concerns—FrenchEntrée is here to help. Follow our Essential Reading articles for everything you need to know about healthcare in France.
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