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JCVI recommends RSV vaccination programme for babies and over-75s

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended an immunisation programme to protect infants and older adults against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The JCVI yesterday announced (June 22) that it made the decision after reviewing “evidence from manufacturers on the efficacy, safety and duration of protection of a number of RSV immunisations”.

It also looked at “clinical and epidemiological data on the burden of RSV in infants and older adults, as well as taking into consideration optimal operational delivery”, it said.

Currently, the NHS offers an RSV immunisation programme to “a very small group of infants known to be at very high risk of severe complications - such as those who are prematurely born and have medical conditions linked with increased risk - to help protect them through the RSV season”, it added.

Read more: Well Pharmacy launches private flu jab bookings early at £17.99

But the JCVI yesterday said that “an RSV immunisation programme that is cost effective should be developed for both infants and older adults” aged 75 years and above.

“The JCVI recognises that there is a significant burden of RSV illness in the UK population, which has a considerable impact on the NHS during winter”, JCVI chair Professor Sir Andrew Pollard said.

However, the involvement of community pharmacies in any such programme remains unclear.

 

“Further consultation”

 

In a report published yesterday, the JCVI said that it “currently favours a one-off campaign” for the vaccination of older adults that would initially cover several age groups, followed by a routine programme for adults turning 75 years old.

But it added that “delivery and implementation” would be “determined through further consultation between NHS England (NHSE), the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the devolved administrations”.

Read more: Government scraps free flu jabs for 50-64-year-olds in 2023/24 season

The JCVI stated no preference on whether a maternal vaccination or a passive immunisation programme should be chosen to protect babies and infants, saying that “both options should be considered for a universal programme”.

However, it advised that any programme should be a “year-round offer” to ensure a “high uptake” and for “operational effectiveness” as this would be “less complex and resource intensive to deliver compared with running seasonal campaigns”.

The JCVI said that it had considered “programme delivery” including the “ability to deliver high uptake in different population groups and clinical settings”.

Read more: The independent pharmacy group with an army of vaccinators

It added that its initial statement has “been published to enable engagement with stakeholders” but that a “final statement” will be “issued to ministers later this summer to inform a policy decision”.

The JCVI “actively encourages feedback from key stakeholders during this period”, it said.

“The committee will continue to keep its advice under review as further evidence emerges and will update its advice when appropriate”, it added.

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