Madrid to Immunize Infants Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus – A Preventive Measure Ahead of the Seasonal Epidemic

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Madrid to immunize infants under six months against RSV

A baby in the region (Photo: File)

The Community of Madrid has announced that it will begin immunizing infants under six months against the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) from this October. As the acting Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, has said, the process will take place at public hospitals using a specific appointment system that will open after summer. With this initiative, Madrid will become “one of the first regions” to facilitate RSV immunization, in line with its decision announced in March to implement preventive measures before the next RSV epidemic season, which usually occurs during autumn and winter.

What is RSV?

RSV is a common and contagious seasonal pathogen that infects the lower respiratory tract, causing annual epidemics worldwide and mainly affecting infants. The virus causes bronchiolitis and pneumonia, both of which are prevalent causes of death in infants. In Spain, 78% of severe cases of bronchiolitis are caused by RSV, and it is estimated that almost 10% of healthy hospitalized children require intensive care.

Madrid’s response

The General Directorate of Public Health of the Community of Madrid has already begun acquiring doses of Niservimab, a monoclonal antibody used to treat RSV. The Community is finalizing the design of the Surveillance and Control Protocol for RSV bronchiolitis, which includes expanding the surveillance of the disease. The administration of the new immunization will take place in October.

Surveillance system

In 2020, the General Directorate of Public Health of the Community of Madrid launched an acute respiratory infection surveillance system from the network of sentinel health centers that provides weekly epidemiological data to favor decision-making.

Acting Counselor’s response

Ruiz Escudero lamented that there is no unified national level policy on RSV immunization, but he defended the Community’s decision to administer the vaccine to all lactating infants up to six months old. He encouraged parents to protect their babies with this vaccine, declaring that “it has passed all technical filters” and protects against a virus with a significant impact on this age group.

Data on RSV in Madrid

During the 2022-2023 season in Madrid, there were 3,685 hospital admissions for children under 1 year old and 300 admissions to pediatric ICUs. The maximum incidence peak was reached in epidemiological week 47, with an incidence of 400 urgent admissions per 100,000 inhabitants. Generally, the detection of cases increases from October, reaching its epidemic peak between December and January.

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