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QLD and NSW secure infant RSV immunisation: Australia must Unite Against RSV with nationwide immunisation program

Immunisation Foundation of Australia 3 mins read
New RSV immunisations will help keep thousands of babies out of hospital every year. Baby Owen from Brisbane spent 5 days in hospital with severe RSV in 2022.

QLD and NSW secure infant RSV immunisation

Australia must Unite Against RSV with nationwide immunisation program

Immunisation advocates are applauding the Queensland and New South Wales governments for protecting their smallest and most vulnerable citizens with statewide RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) immunisation programs for infants.

 

With Queensland and NSW set to join Western Australia in supplying the RSV immunisation, Beyfortus (nirsevimab) to babies in 2024, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia has backed calls for a national program to protect all Australian infants against RSV-related lung infections.

 

“RSV puts more Australian children in hospital than any other illness,” said Catherine Hughes AM, Founder and Director of the Immunisation Foundation of Australia.

 

“Each winter, RSV leaves thousands of babies struggling to breathe, many requiring intensive care for pneumonia or bronchiolitis,” said Ms Hughes, whose three-week-old daughter was hospitalised with RSV in 2016.

 

“All babies deserve protection against this serious and unpredictable virus, and that demands a national RSV immunisation program,” she said.

 

“The earliest that Beyfortus could be added to the National Immunisation Program is 2025, but this is only possible with the support of the Federal Government.”

 

Ms Hughes explained that the federally funded National Immunisation Program (NIP) is best placed to provide all Australians infants with convenient and cost-free access to RSV immunisation. The NIP helps protect Australians against serious infectious diseases at various stages of life, with particular focus on early childhood.

 

“Now that we have the means to protect all infants against severe RSV, we need to grab the opportunity with both hands,” she said. 

 

RSV is a highly contagious virus which causes lower respiratory tract infections, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia, leading to potentially life-threatening breathing difficulties in newborns and infants. Severe RSV infections in infancy are also linked with life-long complications, including asthma.1

 

As the number one cause of hospitalisation of Australian children under five years of age, and with up to one-in-four of these children requiring intensive care2, immunisation to protect infants from severe RSV is extremely important. The virus is responsible for around 12,000 Australian babies aged 12 months or younger being admitted to hospital each year on average.2

 

Please click the links for more information about RSV and Beyfortus.

 

Media contact: Catherine Hughes, 0421 483 391

 

Interview Opportunities: To arrange an interview with a medical expert or family impacted by RSV please get in touch.

 

Catherine Hughes, Founder and Director of the Immunisation Foundation of Australia

Catherine is the founder of the Immunisation Foundation of Australia and Light For Riley, established after the death of her son Riley from whooping cough in 2015

 

Only days after Riley's death, Catherine and husband Greg successfully advocated for the introduction of free whooping cough vaccines for pregnant women, resulting in a sharp increase in awareness of the impact of whooping cough in babies and up to 90 per cent of Australian pregnant women choosing to protect their babies during pregnancy.

 

In 2016, Catherine’s infant daughter Lucy was hospitalised with severe RSV. She says: “I won’t lie. We were consumed by thoughts of Riley and a foreboding sense of ‘not again’.” Catherine’s story can be accessed here.

 

In 2022, Catherine was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to immunisation.

 

References

  1. Rosas-Salazar C, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection during infancy and asthma during childhood in the USA (INSPIRE): a population-based, prospective birth cohort study. Lancet. 2023 May 20;401(10389):1669-1680. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(23)00811-5.
  2. Evohealth. Time to Act – Protecting our children from RSV. 2023. Available at: https://www.evohealth.com.au/insights/time-to-act-protecting-our-children-from-rsv/

 


Key Facts:

Queensland and NSW are set to join Western Australia in supplying the RSV immunisation, Beyfortus (nirsevimab) to babies in 2024.

The Immunisation Foundation of Australia has backed calls for a national program to protect all infants against RSV-related lung disease.

 


About us:

About the Immunisation Foundation of Australia 

The Immunisation Foundation of Australia was established by the family of Riley Hughes, who have become vocal advocates of immunisation after the death of their son from whooping cough in 2015. Believing in the importance of parents and community-members standing up to support immunisation, the foundation’s mission is to inspire further community-based immunisation advocacy, helping to protect babies and families from vaccine-preventable diseases.

 

In 2023, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia ran Australia’s first ever RSV Awareness Week, which encouraged families impacted by RSV to share their stories. The campaign was supported by Karl and Jasmine Stefanovic.

The Immunisation Foundation of Australia envisions a world where families are no longer affected by the unnecessary suffering and death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. To help make this vision a reality, we are committed to creating a network of community-based immunisation champions, who share our common values of respect, integrity and evidence-based advocacy. 


Contact details:

Catherine Hughes: 0421 483 391

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