05 March 2024

RACGP welcomes RSV immunisation rollout

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has welcomed Western Australia becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to rollout an infant RSV immunisation.

Respiratory syncytial virus is common respiratory infection which mostly affects young children. Although symptoms are usually mild and manageable at home, some children and adults can become extremely ill and require hospital treatment. There were 127,944 laboratory confirmed RSV cases reported last year, causing symptoms that ranged from mild to life-threatening.

The monoclonal antibody Nirsevimab 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.

RACGP Western Australia Chair Dr Ramya Raman welcomed the announcement.

“We support the Government's decision to help protect children from the worst effects of this virus,” she said.

“RSV must be taken seriously. It is the number one cause of hospitalisation for children aged five and under in Australia, with a quarter of these children needing intensive care. So, in addition to being a horrible experience for families, the virus places a tremendous strain on our entire healthcare system, including our hospitals.

“This is the first such supply agreement anywhere in the southern hemisphere and a real boost in our efforts to combat RSV in the community. The release of infant immunisation Nirsevimab ahead of the winter months will make a real difference and I encourage families to step forward and take full advantage. Helping keep sick kids out of hospital will make such a difference, particularly as we head into the colder months when respiratory conditions such as RSV can be more prevalent and the pressures on our hospital system a very real concern.”

Dr Raman reminded all families to be patient.

“My message to families is to please be patient when contacting your local practice to secure a vaccination,” she said.

“We await official confirmation; however, it appears that immunisations may be available from your usual, trusted GP in April this year. This announcement has only just been made and rolling out the program may take time. Please keep in mind too that we may not have all the doses we need right away. GPs and practice teams will do the best we can to get as many jabs in arms as quickly as possible so please be respectful in all your dealings with staff including via phone.

“We are very fortunate as a community to have access to these immunisations so let’s work together and get it done. Remember that GPs and practice teams will be doing our very best to deliver these vaccines in communities across the state.”

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