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RSV routine vaccination for babies and older adults in the UK recommended by JCVI

23rd June 2023

The UK should introduce routine vaccination for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to protect babies and older adults, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended.

It has made the early recommendations after reviewing several vaccines currently in development to allow sufficient lead time for the Government to get a policy and programme in place, a statement said.

The committee said there was a significant burden of RSV illness in the UK population and ‘unmet public health need which has a considerable impact on NHS services during the winter months’.

A series of meetings have been held by the committee this year to review the efficacy, safety and duration of protection of the new vaccines that are being developed.

Modelling has also been done by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the impact and cost effectiveness of potential immunisation strategies, the committee said.

Year-round vaccination programme

One potential vaccine developed by Sanofi and AstraZeneca – long acting monoclonal medicine Beyfortus (nirsevimab) for passive immunisation against RSV infection and disease in infants – was licensed by the European Commission and and UK regulators in November.

Pfizer has also developed a bivalent RSV maternal vaccine which has undergone clinical trials and has a potential licensing timeline in 2023, the committee said.

There was no preference whether a maternal vaccination or a passive immunisation programme should be chosen to protect babies and both should be considered.

But a year-round vaccination programme would ensure high uptake and would be less complex and resource intensive to deliver than seasonal immunisation, the JCVI advised.

For the over-75s there are currently three vaccine products in development by GSK, Pfizer and Moderna which are due to be licensed this year or early 2024, all of which should be considered, the committee said.

An RSV vaccine programme for adults aged 75 years and above could also be cost effective with the committee favouring a one-off campaign with an initial offer covering several age groups followed by a routine programme for those turning 75 years old.

‘A significant burden of RSV’

‘In summary, JCVI advises that a RSV immunisation programme, that is cost effective, should be developed for both infants and older adults,’ it said.

‘A fuller statement providing more detail on the evidence considered and the key discussions and conclusions of the committee will be published alongside the minutes of the June meeting,’ it added.

‘The committee will continue to keep its advice under review as further evidence emerges and will update its advice when appropriate.’

JCVI joint committee chair Professor Sir Andrew Pollard said: ‘The JCVI recognises that there is a significant burden of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) illness in the UK population, which has a considerable impact on the NHS during winter.

‘The Committee has issued a rapid short statement advising that a RSV immunisation programme that is cost effective should be developed for both infant and older adults. The statement has been published to enable engagement with stakeholders, with a final statement issued to Ministers later this summer to inform a policy decision.’

This article was originally published by our sister title Pulse.

JCVI advises on next round of Covid booster vaccinations

25th January 2023

The JCVI has advised offering Covid booster vaccinations in spring and autumn 2023 for those groups of patients deemed to be at high risk

Interim advice to the UK Government has recommended that planning begin for a 2023 autumn booster programme for those at higher risk of severe Covid-19 because of age or clinical risk factors. In addition, a smaller group of people, including those of older age and those who are immunosuppressed will also be offered an extra booster dose in the spring, the JCVI has advised.

A first vaccination will no longer be available to adults under 50 years not in an at-risk group with the offer being phased out over the course of 2023, the JCVI said. But emergency surge vaccination campaigns may still be needed should a novel variant of concern emerge with clinically significant biological differences to Omicron, the committee said.

Publishing its interim advice, the JCVI said the risk of severe Covid-19 continued to be ‘disproportionately greater’ in those from older age groups, care home residents, and those with certain underlying health conditions.

But the committee added there remains ongoing uncertainty about the evolution of the virus, durability and breadth of immunity and epidemiology of infection which ‘limits the development of a routine immunisation programme against Covid-19’.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation at the JCVI, said: ‘The Covid-19 vaccination programme continues to reduce severe disease across the population, while helping to protect the NHS.

‘That is why we have advised planning for further booster vaccines for persons at higher risk of serious illness through an autumn booster programme later this year.

We will very shortly also provide final advice on a spring booster programme for those at greatest risk.’

Latest figures from this autumn/winter booster campaign show uptake of 64.5% in the over-50s and 82.4% in those 75 and over.

The 2022 autumn booster offer will come to an end on 12 February, the Department of Health and Social Care said, encouraging anyone who has not yet to come forward to do so now.

This was first published on our sister publication Pulse.