14 March 2024

RACGP urges Tasmanian RSV immunisation rollout

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) is calling on all Tasmanian political parties to follow Western Australia’s lead and commit to rolling out a state-wide RSV immunisation program that will save lives.

It comes following the College welcoming Western Australia becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to rollout an infant RSV immunisation.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is common respiratory infection which mostly affects young children, including babies. The symptoms are usually mild and manageable at home; however, some children and adults can become extremely ill and require hospital treatment. There were more than 127,000 cases reported last year Australia-wide, causing symptoms that ranged from mild to life-threatening.

Ahead of the upcoming Tasmanian election, RACGP Tasmania Chair Dr Toby Gardner called on all political parties to step up and save lives.  

“I call on all Tasmanian political parties to follow Western Australia’s lead and commit to introducing an immunisation program that keeps young kids out of hospital and saves lives,” he said.

“I can’t think of a more important pledge to make ahead of the upcoming election. RSV is a serious disease that puts children in hospital in Tasmania every year. Some people may not realise that it is the number one cause of hospitalisation for children aged five and under in Australia. Not only that, a quarter of those hospitalised kids need intensive care treatment, which is a nightmare for any family to go through.

“With an immunisation program to match the one being rolled out in Western Australia, we can keep children out of hospital beds, save families from the worst experience some may ever endure, and put in place a proactive public health measure that will relieve pressure on the entire Tasmanian health system, including our already under-pressure hospitals.

“So, my message to the Liberal Party, the Australian Labor Party, the Jacquie Lambie Network, the Greens Party, and all others is straightforward – go to this election promising to introduce an RSV vaccine program. Helping keep sick kids out of hospital and saving their family the grief of a stay in an intensive care unit will make such a difference in all communities right across the state.”

In Western Australia, the monoclonal antibody Beyfortus is a one-off injection and in clinical trials has been shown to reduce the number of children hospitalised with RSV-associated infections by 83%. It has already been used widely in Europe and the United States ahead of and during their winter months.

Media enquiries

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