Health care to protect all newborns from bronchiolitis starts on Monday

Health authorities will begin giving all newborns nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody that protects against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the virus that causes most bronchiolitis, on Monday. The drug will be injected at maternity hospitals before discharge, but the campaign is not just for children born starting next week, but also for children born since April 1. The latter will receive nirsevimab treatment at the health center. The ministry will notify families via text message or phone call starting this week.

Although nirsevimab is not a vaccine per se but a monoclonal antibody, it is included in the vaccination campaign for all newborns in the Murcia region with the aim of mitigating the impact of seasonal epidemics of bronchiolitis that kill large numbers of children die. Admissions and complications. According to health data, 466 children under one year old in the region required hospitalization last season due to respiratory syncytial virus. Eighteen of the babies had to stay in the intensive care unit and 50 in the neonatal unit.

Murcia is part of a group of communities that decided not to wait for the interterritorial committee to convene and start funding nirsevimab this fall. Madrid, Catalonia, Galicia, Asturias and Andalusia are also set to start using the drug in the coming weeks.

A vaccine conference bringing together experts from different communities and ministries of health has proposed including nirsevimab in the vaccination program in October to avoid a surge in bronchiolitis cases like last year.

In a preschool classroom

But that’s not the only novelty in the area. Next Wednesday, the health department will start giving flu shots to 3- and 4-year-old children in schools, following a pilot experience last year in about 20 centers. They will inject the vaccine intranasally, thus avoiding a puncture. The Ministries of Health and Education are finalizing logistics for the event.

In the meantime, children under 3 years old will continue to be vaccinated at health centers as in the last season. The Murcia region, Galicia and Andalusia are the first communities to include influenza prevention in their 2022 childhood vaccination plans.

  • Flu vaccination for children 6 to 59 months:

    Next Tuesday, the flu vaccination drive will begin in schools for children aged 3 and 4 (born in 2019 and 2020). They will receive the intranasal vaccine. Children under 3 years old will be vaccinated at health centres.

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV):

    Starting Monday the 25th, health authorities will begin giving all newborns nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody that protects against RSV, which causes most bronchiolitis. The drug will be given in hospital after birth, but health authorities will contact parents of babies born since April 1 this week so they can receive the vaccine at health centres.

  • COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations for people over 60 and other risk or critical groups:

    The start of the campaign depends on the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine doses for the new Ómicron subvariant. In principle, the Public Health Committee agreed that the campaign would start in the last week of September. The first people to receive both the flu and coronavirus vaccines will be those over the age of 80.

Also in the coming days, vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 and influenza will begin simultaneously for people over 60, people with chronic diseases, pregnant women, and health care and essential service workers. The Public Health Commission has agreed to bring forward immunizations to the end of September amid an increase in coronavirus cases recorded across Spain. However, as of today, the ministry has not set a date as it awaits the “arrival of doses” of Pfizer’s new vaccine for the latest Ómicron sub-variant. Once Spain receives the vaccines, the Ministry of Health must determine how they will be distributed among the autonomous regions.

Over 80 years old

When the vaccine arrives, Health will start protecting seniors over age 80 and gradually reduce it to age 60. At the same time, health care workers, patients with chronic diseases and pregnant women will also be vaccinated. As in recent seasons, the flu and COVID vaccines will be given at the same time.

Coverage ranges from 44% to 61%

According to current provisional data, the health department vaccinated 26,813 children between six and 59 months of age last season. This number represents 44% coverage. The ministry hopes to improve results this fall by vaccinating 3- and 4-year-olds in schools. But coverage for adults can also be improved, especially in the case of COVID-19: only 53.6% of people over 60 in the Murcia region received a booster dose against coronavirus last year, while in the case of influenza this The figures reached this group, accounting for 61.4%. The department noted that this year it plans to increase coverage for influenza patients over 65 to 65%, and in the case of COVID-19, “it hopes to cover as many target groups as possible.”

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