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Medical Health Aged Care

RACGP pushes for Queensland RSV vaccination rollout

Royal Australian College of GPs 2 mins read

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) is calling on the Queensland Government to follow Western Australia’s lead and introduce a free, state-wide RSV vaccination to keep babies safe.

It comes following the College welcoming Western Australia becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to rollout an infant RSV immunisation. This morning, it has been reported that Health Minister Shannon Fentiman is “actively considering” a rollout in Queensland.

RACGP Queensland Chair, Dr Cathryn Hester, urged Minister Fentiman to do just that.

“This decision would save lives,” she said.

“The Queensland Government has already done a tremendous job announcing free influenza vaccines for this year’s flu season as well as funding meningococcal B vaccines for kids and adolescents. So, the time to act on RSV is now, particularly when you consider that the number of children aged nine and under hospitalised with this virus leapt from 1,961 cases the year before last to 3,161 last year. Unlike other states and territories, Queensland unfortunately has year-round cases of RSV as we do not have predictable seasons, and this only adds to the challenge of managing this virus. So, there is no time like the present to get this rollout started and save lives.

“We know that babies under six months of age are the ones most prone to develop severe symptoms including lung infections that can lead to hospitalisation. By rolling out this vaccine, we help keep babies safe.”

The Queensland Chair warned that many families were not aware of how severe RSV can be for otherwise healthy infants.

“RSV must be taken seriously,” she said.

“This is a virus that puts otherwise healthy kids in hospital in Queensland every single year. As Minister Fentiman would be aware, RSV is the number one cause of hospitalisation for children aged five and under across the country. A quarter of those hospitalised kids need intensive care treatment, which as I’m sure anyone can imagine is a horrible experience for any family to go through even if their child turns out to be okay.

“So, I urge my home state to follow Western Australia’s lead and get this vaccination into as many arms as possible right away. By doing so, we can not only keep kids out of hospital and save families a nightmare-inducing ordeal, but also put in place a vaccination rollout that will relieve pressure on the entire health system, including our hospitals.”

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 127,944 RSV cases reported last year Australia-wide, causing symptoms that ranged from mild to life-threatening.

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.

~ENDS

RACGP spokespeople are available for interview.


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About the RACGP

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

Visit www.racgp.org.au. To unsubscribe from RACGP media releases, click here.


Contact details:

John Ronan
Media Adviser

Ally Francis
Media Adviser

Stuart Winthrope
Media Officer

 

Email: media@racgp.org.au (we will respond promptly to all media inquiries).

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