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RSV Vaccination for Infants could Avert 10,000 Hospital Admissions: IFA

RSV Vaccination

According to the Immunization Foundation of Australia (IFA), a nationwide baby RSV vaccination program might avert 10,000 hospital admissions per year.

More than 47,000 RSV notifications in children under five years old have already been reported in Australia this year; these notifications account for 70% of all respiratory illness notifications in this age group. Additionally, more than 13,000 notifications have been made for adults 60 years of age and older.

“We have already documented almost two-thirds of the total number of RSV cases reported in 2023 at the onset of winter.”1.According to Dr. Lisa McHugh, a prenatal and infectious diseases epidemiologist at the University of Queensland, “this is well ahead of the normal curve.”

“We expect an increase in RSV infections when the weather drops. Additionally, she noted, “we should anticipate a spike in hospital presentations from people who are not immune to severe RSV.”
Positively, the two states with all-infant RSV immunization programs, Queensland and Western Australia, are reporting lower incidence of hospitalizations associated to RSV in infants, according to the IFA. “Western Australian hospitalization data indicates a low rate of RSV-related infant admission for this time of year,”2 stated Catherine Hughes AM, the Immunization Foundation of Australia’s founder and director.

More than 10,000 newborns in Western Australia have received the severe RSV vaccination to date, and Queensland has had a comparable uptake. This means that for every 25 babies who receive the vaccination, one hospital stay is likely to be avoided.

“The message is clear—infant RSV immunization keeps babies out of the hospital,” stated Hughes, who lost her son Riley to whooping cough 18 months after her three-week-old daughter was hospitalized in 2016 due to severe RSV.

According to calculations made by the Immunization Foundation of Australia, around 10,000 hospital admissions for infants under the age of a year might be avoided if baby RSV vaccination is made widely available and uptaken.

Data gathered over the winter seasons in Europe and the US demonstrated an 80–90% decrease in pediatric hospital admissions caused by severe RSV after the introduction of newborn RSV vaccinations.4,5

“We know that, in the absence of immunization, approximately 12,000 Australian infants are admitted to hospitals each year for RSV-caused pneumonia and bronchiolitis, with one in four of them needing critical care,”6 the speaker stated. During RSV Awareness Week, which takes place from June 2–8, McHugh and Hughes are urging all Australians to join them in proclaiming, “I Support RSV Protection.” Hughes cautioned that Australia might miss out on the opportunity to experience a new era of RSV protection if national immunization programs for children and the elderly weren’t implemented.

She stated, “It’s great that we can now protect babies and the elderly from RSV, but it’s not sustainable to ask older Australians to pay hundreds of dollars a year for RSV protection, or to have infant immunization programs in some states but not others.”

The Immunization Foundation of Australia has submitted applications to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which will counsel the federal health minister regarding the financing of the following initiatives:

1)An antibody therapy to prevent RSV-related lower respiratory tract disease in infants about to enter their first RSV season, as well as for children up to 24 months of age who are still susceptible to severe RSV disease during their second RSV season;

2) A vaccine for pregnant women between 24 and 36 weeks of gestation to prevent RSV-related lower respiratory tract disease in infants born through six months of age;

3) A vaccination for Australians 60 years of age and above to guard against RSV-related lower respiratory tract disease.

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