RSV vaccine Beyfortus (nirsevimab) recently approved by TGA to be made available to babies in QLD, NSW

Newborn babies in Queensland can get a free new vaccine for a respiratory virus that is the most common reason for hospitalisation of younger children in Australia.

In New South Wales, the state government is making the vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) available for health-vulnerable babies, including those born prematurely and with compromised immune systems.

The vaccine nirsevimab, sold under the name Beyfortus, was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in November.

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Western Australia became the first jurisdiction to offer the vaccine to babies, with the state government announcing on March 5 it would be made available to children younger than eight months old.

The free rollout in Queensland will last for 12 months, at which point the program will be reassessed.

“Providing the smallest Queenslanders with a free RSV immunisation will help give them the best start in life,” Queensland Premier Steven Miles told the Courier Mail.

The NSW government has revealed to The Australian that doctors will be able to offer Beyfortus to babies, pending consent by their parents, born more than three weeks premature, or if they have lung disease, heart disease, immunodeficiency, down syndrome and impaired respiratory function.

The TGA recommends newborn babies are jabbed with Beyfortus if they are born during or just before RSV season.

Those born outside that period should get the vaccine “once prior to the start of the RSV season”, according to the authority’s guidelines.

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis Australia sponsored Beyfortus for approval in Australia.

“The (approval) decision was based on quality (chemistry and manufacturing), nonclinical (pharmacology and toxicology), clinical (pharmacology, safety and efficacy) and risk management plan information submitted by the sponsor,” the TGA said.

“The benefit-risk profile of Beyfortus was considered favourable for the therapeutic use approved.”

Advocacy group Immunisation Foundation of Australia has welcomed the states’ rollout of the vaccine.

“RSV puts more Australian children in hospital than any other illness,” founder Catherine Hughes said.

“Each winter, RSV leaves thousands of babies struggling to breathe, many requiring intensive care for pneumonia or bronchiolitis.

“All babies deserve protection against this serious and unpredictable virus, and that demands a national RSV immunisation program.”

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