Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine

Doctors and nurses urge government to roll out RSV vaccine programme

Doctors and nurses are part of a group of more than 2,000 healthcare professionals who have signed an open letter to the UK Government calling for the vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to be rolled out to infants and adults next winter as part of a full immunisation programme.

The impact of RSV peaks in December and can lead to 33,000 NHS hospitalisations of under fives a year, as well as 20-30 deaths.

One of the organisations backing the call is the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). The RCPCH highlights that evidence has indicated that rolling out an RSV vaccine could save:

  • 108,000 GP appointments
  • 74,000 A&E visits
  • 20,000 hospitalisations 

“…an RSV immunisation programme would be an absolute game changer…”

Previous research has also suggested that RSV in UK under fives costs £80m a year. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised the government to develop an RSV programme for infants and older adults.

Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH’s president, said: “The implementation of an RSV immunisation programme would be an absolute game changer, not just for the NHS and doctors on the ground, but also for parents”.

She added that Jeremy Hunt and Victoria Atkins “are staring a no-brainer in the face” and must take doctors’ advice. “Together with 2000 of my colleagues, I urge them to seize this opportunity and not wait until after the upcoming election,” said Camilla.

The letter states that the implementation of an RSV programme would alleviate pressure on the NHS and reduce child mortality.

The government is also being urged to make sure funding is available for similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Image credit: iStock

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