QLD and NSW secure infant RSV immunisation: Australia must Unite Against RSV with nationwide immunisation program

Immunisation Foundation of Australia

QLD and NSW secure infant RSV immunisation

Australia must Unite Against RSV with nationwide immunisation program

Immunisation advocates are applauding the Queensland and New South Wales governments for protecting their smallest and most vulnerable citizens with statewide RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) immunisation programs for infants.

With Queensland and NSW set to join Western Australia in supplying the RSV immunisation, Beyfortus (nirsevimab) to babies in 2024, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia has backed calls for a national program to protect all Australian infants against RSV-related lung infections.

“RSV puts more Australian children in hospital than any other illness,” said Catherine Hughes AM, Founder and Director of the Immunisation Foundation of Australia.

“Each winter, RSV leaves thousands of babies struggling to breathe, many requiring intensive care for pneumonia or bronchiolitis,” said Ms Hughes, whose three-week-old daughter was hospitalised with RSV in 2016.

“All babies deserve protection against this serious and unpredictable virus, and that demands a national RSV immunisation program,” she said.

“The earliest that Beyfortus could be added to the National Immunisation Program is 2025, but this is only possible with the support of the Federal Government.”

Ms Hughes explained that the federally funded National Immunisation Program (NIP) is best placed to provide all Australians infants with convenient and cost-free access to RSV immunisation. The NIP helps protect Australians against serious infectious diseases at various stages of life, with particular focus on early childhood.

“Now that we have the means to protect all infants against severe RSV, we need to grab the opportunity with both hands,” she said.

RSV is a highly contagious virus which causes lower respiratory tract infections, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia, leading to potentially life-threatening breathing difficulties in newborns and infants. Severe RSV infections in infancy are also linked with life-long complications, including asthma.1

As the number one cause of hospitalisation of Australian children under five years of age, and with up to one-in-four of these children requiring intensive care2, immunisation to protect infants from severe RSV is extremely important. The virus is responsible for around 12,000 Australian babies aged 12 months or younger being admitted to hospital each year on average.2

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