Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Getting a tetanus jab "en France"

Posted by Rosie

School sent home a note at the beginning of term saying that children should have a tetanus jab every 5 years. Bearing in mind we have been in France 4 years and I couldn't remember the boys having a jab I reckoned they were probably both due. Well it turned out Ben is OK for another few months (although I had better put a note on the calendar to remind me) but Tom was due for one now. 

In England getting the jab is easy - you call the surgery and book an appointment with the practice nurse who administers the injection. Job done. This is France though, where nothing is simple. Anyway I phoned up the surgery and explained that Tom need a "vaccination antitétanique". 
"No problem," she replied and we booked an appointment.
"Don't forget to go to the pharmacy first, though," she added as I was about to hang up.
"The Pharmacy?"
"Yes, the Pharmacy."
"Errrm, why?" I asked.
"To buy the injection," she replied in a somewhat surprised tone, "and then you come back to the Doctor's to get your ordonnance (prescription)."
Now I was confused. Why did I need a prescription AFTER I had bought the injection? Did the Doctor still give the injection or would I have to head off and find a nurse to administer it? However the receptionist assured me it was the doctor who gave the "piqûre".

Yesterday I was in Vire so I went to the pharmacy and explained I needed a Tetanus injection for my son.
"Pas de problem," she smiled and handed me over a box, reminding me to keep it in the fridge and asked for €10.21. She was a very nice lady and exceedingly easy to understand so I asked her why I needed a prescription from my Doctor.
"To claim back the cost of the injection," she explained. "Bring the box with it's bar-code, the prescription and your Carte Vitale (French Health card) and we'll pay you back the €10.21."
"Errrm, but this isn't my closest pharmacy," I said, not wishing to travel back to Vire just to claim back €10.21.
"Pas de problem," she assured me, "you can go the any pharmacy."

So this evening Tom had his jab, the Doctor gave me the prescription and I drove to the nearest pharmacy to claim back the €10.21.
"But this isn't where you bought the injection," the pharmacist said, before adding a couple more sentences I didn't grasp.
"Errrm, is that a problem?"
"I don't know," he replied. "I'll have to see what happens." And this is some-one who should KNOW the French medical system!!

Turns out it wasn't a problem and after much photocopying, printing and tearing in half of papers I left with the €10.21 in my purse and a nagging feeling that involving 4 separate people (receptionist, doctor and 2 pharmacists) and umpteen bits of paper and computer records, might not have been either the cheapest or the simplest way to protect against getting Tetanus.

6 comments :

  1. Oh the joys of unfamiliar procedures. Here they photocopy everything twice, take you ID number and spend 15 minutes on the computer for the smallest and simplest of administrative tasks....

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  2. Wow...sounds complicated, thank goodness you have a good grasp of the language, I would have been hopeless!!

    Sue xx

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  3. The UK clearly still has a lot to learn about creating unnecessary bureaucracy!

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  4. And you can be your bottom dollar it'll be different when it gets to Ben's turn!

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  5. That's why we stick with the NHS: to make up for the awful weather you expats have escaped :P

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  6. The second pharmacist tried to assure me that the French Health system is better than the UK and had less wastage. To be honest at the time I wasn't convinced. I must admit however that the level of care here is excellent. Both boys have had grommets and had regular subsequent ear check-ups and hearing tests. Ben also had regular check-ups and X-rays for a year after he broke his arm.

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