Vaccines protecting against anaphylaxis will be administered by NHS nurses to people who suffer severe reactions to bee and wasp stings under new guidance.
The vaccine called Pharmalgen, which aims to prevent people from going into anaphylactic shock after they have been stung, is to be approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Around one in 200 people have such severe reactions after being stung by a wasp or bee.
The vaccine is delivered as a series of injections that gradually introduce higher doses of the allergens in bee and wasp venom, which eventually desensitises a person to their effects by gently stimulating their immune system.
Nurses will give the treatment to patients over two phases - the initial phase and the maintenance phase, which lasts three years.
Draft guidance produced by NICE suggests that people who have experienced “a severe systemic reaction to bee or wasp venom” should receive the vaccine as well as those who have experienced a “moderate systemic reaction” and are at “a high risk of future stings”, people who have a raised level of a blood serum that has been linked to anaphylaxis and those who are “anxious about future stings”.
Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE said: “The reactions that some people experience to stings from bees and wasps can be distressing, frightening and sometimes life-threatening.
“People who have had a serious reaction to a sting can often experience extreme anxiety about possible future stings, and this can affect their daily lives.
“So we are pleased to be able to recommend Pharmalgen as an effective, preventative treatment in preliminary recommendations issued today.”
- Littlejohns P, et al. Venom anaphylaxis - immunotherapy pharmalgen: Pharmalgen for the treatment of venom allergy. Expected DOI February 2012. NICE 2011.