Miles Doing What Matters: Free RSV immunisation success for Queensland newborns

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Miles Doing What Matters: Free RSV immunisation success for Queensland newborns

  • The Miles Government’s free RSV immunisation program shows no immunised newborns hospitalised for RSV since its launch this year.
  • Since the launch of the program, over 90 newborns have been hospitalised with RSV. None had a record of RSV immunisation.
  • Queensland Health will look to publish information about the success of the program as more data becomes available.

The Miles Government’s recently launched free Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Immunisation program is showing promising early results, particularly for newborns.

Encouragingly, no newborns who received the immunisation have been hospitalised with RSV. This finding highlights the program’s potential to significantly impact this vulnerable age group.

While RSV cases across the state have soared by 53 per cent compared to last year, with more than 23,486 diagnoses, children under two are still a significant portion of those affected.

Nearly one-third of all RSV cases this year have occurred in this age group, resulting in 1,366 hospitalisations.

The Miles Government committed $31 million to fund the program in March, using the monoclonal antibody product nirsevimab (brand name Beyfortus®), supplied by Sanofi.

Data since the program’s launch, shows a significant decrease in hospitalisations for newborns (under two months), with 60 fewer newborns needing hospital care (153 to 93) compared to the same period last year.

In the past four weeks, only 12 newborns were hospitalised with RSV, compared to 48 during the same period last year. None of these newborns were immunised.

Despite the overall rise in case numbers, the program’s success in protecting immunised newborns offers a positive outlook. With more than 7,500 young children already immunised, the program has the potential to significantly reduce the burden of RSV on young children.

The Miles Government continues to emphasise the importance of immunisation for infants and young children. Almost all Queensland children will encounter RSV by age two, and immunisation can significantly reduce the risk of serious illness.

As further data becomes available, Queensland Health will look to publish findings in a peer-reviewed medical journal. This will allow for a more comprehensive analysis of the program’s effectiveness and its potential to inform future RSV prevention strategies.

Parents are encouraged to learn more about RSV and the RSV Immunisation program here.

As stated by the Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Service and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman:

“It’s exciting to be leading the nation with our successful RSV program.

“Our publicly funded roll out of the RSV vaccine has effectively eradicated RSV for newborn babies here in Queensland.

“We know that vaccines work. And so far the data shows that no immunised newborns have been hospitalised with RSV since we launched the $31 million program earlier this year.

“This is an incredible public health achievement, and one Queenslanders can be proud of.

“The Miles Government is committed to providing Queenslanders with access to the healthcare they need.

“Together with Queensland Health, we will continue to monitor the program’s effectiveness closely to ensure the best possible protection for our most vulnerable Queenslanders, now and in the future.”

As stated by Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard:

“RSV immunisation has proven to be a safe and effective way to reduce severe RSV disease in infants.

“This free state government program is an important step towards reducing the risk associated with RSV and keeping more newborns safe.

“Since the program’s launch, no immunised newborn has been hospitalised with RSV in Queensland.

“This has been a dreaded disease of newborn babies. The threat appears to be melting away over the course of just a few weeks.”

“Newborn babies and infants under 8 months old are eligible for free RSV immunisation in Queensland.

“While the program’s results are very reassuring, it’s important that Queenslanders remain vigilant throughout winter when we’re more likely to see this uptick of respiratory viruses impact us all.

“I urge all Queenslanders, young and old, to do their part in helping to protect our most vulnerable populations.

“Simple practices like staying home when you’re feeling unwell can go a long way to prevent the spread of respiratory infections.”

/Public Release. View in full here.