This non-reimbursed vaccine is requested by doctors to “avoid deaths this winter”

This non-reimbursed vaccine is requested by doctors to “avoid deaths this winter”

In an article published in Le Parisien, doctors from different specialties call for reimbursement of the vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as of this fall. One way to limit hospitalizations of elderly and fragile people due to this infection. The point of view of Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens.

Pulmonologists, infectious diseases specialists, radiologists and even general practitioners… Several dozen doctors are sounding the alert in an article published in Le Parisien. Everyone wants elderly or frail people to have access to vaccination against the respiratory syncytial virus.

RSV, a respiratory virus that causes thousands of hospitalizations each year

Respiratory syncytial virus is a virus well known to parents of young children, in whom it causes bronchiolitis. What is less known is that this same virus can also affect elderly and fragile people, causing serious health problems for them.

This same RSV virus is the cause of respiratory infections in adults, most often benign, but potentially serious in the elderly and fragile patients because they are immunocompromised, treated for cancer, or with respiratory insufficiency, particularly those suffering from bronchopneumopathy. chronic obstructive disorder (COPD) of which more than 100,000 receive oxygen at home in Europe” write the doctors.

“Its dangerousness is potentially even greater than that of the flu, particularly if we refer to recent French data with a lethality estimated between 5 and 10% in the event of hospitalization, i.e. 1 death every 10 to 20 hospitalizations. In Europe, it is estimated that there are 20,000 to 25,000 hospitalizations each year related to severe RSV infection in subjects over 65 years of age, a figure very close to that of hospitalizations linked to influenza. write the doctors.

A vaccine authorized on the European market since June 2023

If several vaccines against RSV exist, there is one, Arexvy, from GSK laboratories, which is already available. It indeed obtained marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last June, after the publication of a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study reports an effectiveness of the vaccine of “83% on infections and 94% on severe forms of pneumonia, with excellent tolerance” the doctors continue to advance, in their tribune.

“There is no reason to wait, the time to act is now!”

But what’s the problem, then? “This vaccine is available in Europe. It can be prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacists. Unfortunately, it is not covered by Health Insurance, even for fragile, elderly, respiratory insufficient or immunocompromised patients. The very people who risk dying if they develop a severe form of RSV infection. With a cost of more than 200 euros, only the most fortunate will have access to it if they wish.” denounce the health professionals in their forum.

A two-speed situation caused by the High Authority of Health, which wishes to establish a vaccination strategy to prevent RSV infections in adults, and the results of which are planned for October 2024. Reimbursement of the vaccine is therefore not considered before this date.

An absurdity for doctors, who are pleading for Health Insurance to cover the cost of the vaccine from this year, for the most vulnerable. “There is no reason to wait, the time to act is now!” they estimate, arguing that a triple vaccination against influenza, Covid-19 and RSV is essential for all these patients as soon as possible.

As a reminder, the launch of vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 and flu are planned for October 2 and 17.

“We must not forget the structural problem facing the hospital”

Asked about the question, Dr Gérald Kierzek shares the point of view developed in the column. “Of course, for people at risk, such as the elderly, immunocompromised or obese, for example, it makes sense that this vaccine is reimbursed.” he begins.

But be careful that all these innovations do not make us forget the structural problem facing the public hospital. We cannot say that the solution to the lack of beds is the vaccine against this or that pathology. It is a partial response to the overload of hospitals, certainly, but certainly not a response to the crisis facing our health system.” concludes our expert.