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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Queensland government faces calls to follow lead in vaccination roll out

Health Industry Hub | March 11, 2024 |

Pharma News: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging the Queensland Government to introduce a state-wide, free vaccination program for infants. This call to action comes on the heels of Western Australia becoming the first jurisdiction in the country to roll out a dedicated Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) immunisation for infants.

QLD Health Minister Shannon Fentiman has reportedly expressed active consideration for a similar rollout in the state.

Dr Cathryn Hester, RACGP Queensland Chair, emphasised the life-saving potential of such a decision.

“The Queensland Government has already demonstrated its commitment to public health by announcing free influenza vaccines for this year’s flu season and funding meningococcal B vaccines for children and adolescents. Now, with the alarming surge in RSV cases among children aged nine and under – from 1,961 cases two years ago to 3,161 cases last year – the urgency to act on RSV is paramount,” she highlighted.

Dr Hester noted that Queensland faces a unique challenge with year-round RSV cases due to the absence of predictable seasons, intensifying the need for a swift and comprehensive vaccination rollout.

“We know that babies under six months of age are the most vulnerable to developing severe symptoms, including lung infections that may lead to hospitalisation. By implementing this vaccine, we can significantly contribute to keeping our infants safe,” Dr Hester explained.

Drawing attention to the lack of awareness surrounding the severity of RSV, Dr Hester stressed “RSV must be taken seriously. This virus annually hospitalises otherwise healthy children in Queensland, and it stands as the primary cause of hospitalisation for children aged five and under nationwide. A quarter of these children require intensive care treatment, a harrowing experience for any family.”

Highlighting the success of the monoclonal antibody Beyfortus (nirsevimab) in Western Australia, Dr Hester underscored the potential impact of a well-executed vaccination program. In clinical trials, one-off injection of Sanofi’s Beyfortus demonstrated an 83% reduction in hospitalisations for RSV-associated infections among children.

“I urge my home state to follow Western Australia’s lead and swiftly implement this vaccination initiative. Not only will it keep children out of hospitals and spare families from harrowing ordeals, but it will also alleviate pressure on our healthcare system, including our hospitals,” Dr Hester expressed.

RSV, a common respiratory infection affecting infants and young children, saw 127,944 reported cases nationwide last year, with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening.

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