‘A number’ of community pharmacies will be commissioned by NHS England (NHSE) to provide the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine to older adults from this autumn.

A letter published today by NHSE and the UK Health Security Agency announced the introduction of a new RSV vaccination programme from 1 September 2024, for older adults and pregnant women.

NHSE ‘will be commissioning a number of community pharmacies to deliver the programme’, it said, while the campaign will also be commissioned from general practice as an essential service, starting from 1 September 2024.

NHSE said that further details ‘will be shared in due course’.

This autumn’s campaign will include a concerted effort to vaccinate adults aged 75 to 79 years old on 1 September 2024, ‘with the aim of completing the majority by 31 August 2025’.

‘To offer the best protection, we are asking systems and providers to vaccinate as many people as possible during September and October 2024 prior to the expected RSV season,’ NHSE said.

And going forwards, all adults turning 75 years old on or after 1 September 2024 will be eligible for the routine programme and should be offered a single dose of the RSV vaccine on or after their 75th birthday, NHSE said.

Meanwhile, all women who are at least 28 weeks pregnant on 1 September 2024 should be offered a single dose of the RSV vaccine ‘as soon as possible’ to protect their infants, NHSE said.

‘After that, pregnant women will become eligible as they reach 28 weeks gestation and remain eligible up to birth,’ NHSE added.

And it said that the ‘ideal opportunity to offer vaccination’ would be at the 28-week antenatal contact (ANC).

It is currently not clear whether pharmacies would be commissioned to offer the RSV vaccination service to pregnant women.

A bivalent recombinant vaccine developed by Pfizer, Abrysvo, will be used for both pregnant women and older adults, following its licensing by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in November last year.

Providers should be able to order the vaccine online via the ImmForm website from early August, and must keep it refrigerated.

The announcement of the programme follows a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) last year that the UK should introduce routine vaccination for RSV to protect babies and older adults.