Government urged to roll out virus jab for babies or face a wave of sick infants in the coming winter

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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NHS emergency departments will be filled with sick infants this winter unless the Government sets out its plan to roll out a new jab for common bugs, experts have warned.

It has been nearly a year since the Government’s vaccination advisory group recommended an immunisation programme against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – best known for causing the lung infection bronchiolitis in children.

There are now three highly effective vaccines which protect patients against the bug’s symptoms – including one jab given to pregnant women to help protect their infants.

However, the Government has still not announced any plans to roll out an RSV vaccine on the NHS.

Experts are now warning that health officials are running out of time to purchase the jab.

NHS emergency departments will be filled with sick infants this winter unless the Government sets out its plan to roll out a new jab for common bugs, experts have warned (stock photo)

It has been nearly a year since the Government's vaccination advisory group recommended an immunisation programme against respiratory syncytial virus ( RSV ) ¿ best known for causing the lung infection bronchiolitis in children (stock image)

It has been nearly a year since the Government’s vaccination advisory group recommended an immunisation programme against respiratory syncytial virus ( RSV ) – best known for causing the lung infection bronchiolitis in children (stock image)

RSV hospitalises about 30,000 children and 18,000 adults each year. 

While it is not typically life-threatening, the disease places a massive burden on the NHS because the majority of these cases usually happen in a six-week period, which can occur any time between November and February.

It comes after a survey of 150 NHS doctors – carried out by the drug firm Sanofi last week – found that three-quarters of the medics believe infant RSV places an ‘unsustainable burden’ on paediatric services and prevents the NHS from carrying out elective procedures.

Nearly 100 per cent surveyed agreed that rolling out an RSV vaccine would reduce pressure on the NHS this winter.

In November last year, the charity Asthma and Lung UK called on the Government to deliver the jabs ‘as soon as possible’.

‘We need to have this vaccine ready for this winter,’ says Professor Harish Nair, chairman of paediatric infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh.

‘There is a lot of demand around the world for these jabs, and supply is limited, so it’s crucial the NHS procures them soon.’

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