"The main risk is influenza A, not the vaccine"

"The main risk is influenza A, not the vaccine"

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The outbreak of influenza A continues to spread and questions remain. Is the vaccine reliable? Is this flu so bad? Professor Didier Houssin, Director General of Health takes stock. (News of the 30/11/09)

Why do you recommend getting a flu shot?

  • This flu can cause mild forms but also sometimes serious forms involving resuscitation or even death. Vaccination can help prevent these serious forms. Millions of doses of this vaccine have been administered and we now know that it is well tolerated. We remain vigilant for possible phenomena, but for now, the main risk is always this flu, not the vaccine.

If adjuvanted vaccines * are safe, why is the unadjuvanted vaccine recommended for pregnant women and children 6 to 23 months of age?

  • This precautionary principle does not mean that there may be a danger with the adjuvanted vaccine. When you authorize a vaccine, you rely on scientific data and trials. However, we do not have sufficient data on this vaccine for pregnant women and children aged 6 to 23 months. On the other hand, we have this scientific data with the vaccine without adjuvant *, so this is the one we recommend to this segment of the population.

If I'm pregnant and get vaccinated, will my baby be immunized against Influenza A at birth?

  • Absolutely This is very important because you can not vaccinate a baby against influenza A before 6 months. If the mother-to-be gets vaccinated, her antibodies can protect her baby for a few months.

I am never vaccinated against the seasonal flu, why would I get vaccinated against influenza A?

  • Because it's not the same flu. Seasonal flu is especially dangerous for the elderly or those with serious illnesses. With influenza A, it is different because severe forms have been observed in young subjects, without risk factors.

*Adjuvant: product contained in a vaccine that stimulates immunity and promotes the production of antibodies.

Interviewed by Stéphanie Letellier.

Influenza A: all our news.