The country’s top paediatrician has warned that a delay in a new vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, will mean more babies and toddlers will need hospital treatment this winter.
Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health is frustrated by the delay.
“We’re frustrated that if we had acted earlier, we could have at least limited the extent of the consequences this winter, and we missed an opportunity here,” Kingdon said.
“One of the aspects of winter that always fills us with anxiety is that we know we will eventually have to halt elective surgery lists because our hospitals are at full capacity with all the infections we see in the winter.
“You have to get ahead of the game. We are really disappointed that the program has not been rolled out in a way that will have an impact this winter because we have talked about it endlessly, but there has been a delay in activating the program.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health & Social Care told The Independent, “The NHS is already providing monoclonal antibodies that offer protection against RSV to babies at very high risk.
“We are developing plans for delivering broader RSV programs for children and adults in collaboration with UKHSA, NHS England, and manufacturers. We will provide an update in due course.”
A vaccine for the virus was approved for use in older adults in the UK in July because the virus caused 175,000 GP visits, 14,000 hospital admissions, and 8,000 deaths in people over 60 in the UK.
The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved the jab from pharmaceutical company GSK PLC, known as Arexvy.
Research showed that the jab has a high level of efficacy and is generally well tolerated. The vaccine was found to be 94.1% effective at preventing severe infection. Side effects of the shot were “transient and of mild to moderate severity,” the researchers wrote.
The most common side effects were headache, injection site pain, fatigue, or joint or muscle pain.