A New Era of Protection Against RSV Is Here
September 19, 2023
Last year was a bad one for RSV, a highly infectious respiratory virus that is especially risky for infants, young children, older adults and people with chronic lung conditions.
Fortunately, as respiratory season approaches, several new options will help protect the most vulnerable from RSV:
- Infants: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a monoclonal antibody for infants and young children.
- Older Adults & Pregnant Women: The FDA also approved vaccines for older adults and pregnant women.
For Infants and Young Children
RSV causes mild illness in most children, but some develop lower respiratory tract disease that often leads to a visit to the emergency department or doctor’s office.
In July, the FDA approved a monoclonal antibody for infants called Beyfortus. Unlike vaccines, which stimulate the immune system, monoclonal antibodies are manufactured proteins that mimic antibodies. Beyfortus reduced severe RSV infection by about 75 percent in late preterm and term infants.
The shot is approved for infants up to 8 months old born during or entering their first RSV season, which starts in the fall, and for babies 8 to 19 months old at high risk for disease in their second RSV season.
For Pregnant Women
In August, the FDA approved a vaccine called Abrysvo for pregnant women between 32 to 36 weeks of gestation. The vaccine provides antibodies that transfer from the mother to the baby through the placenta and helps protect newborns from RSV through 6 months of age.
Abrysvo reduced the risk of severe disease by about 82 percent when given within three months of birth and by about 70 percent when given within six months. That means fewer hospitalizations, says Amy Edwards, MD, infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s.
“If a woman gets the vaccine when pregnant, she could keep her child safe from needed a trip to the hospital for months after birth,” Dr Edwards says. “A baby in the hospital with RSV often needs oxygen and sometimes a breathing tube to support their body because the lungs become so inflamed, they stop working well.”
For Older Adults
In May, the FDA approved Abrysvo and a second RSV vaccine, Arexvy, for people ages 60 and older. Both vaccines are highly effective at preventing lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV.
RSV leads to as many as 120,00 hospitalizations and 6,000 to 10,00 deaths a year among people 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccines currently are available at retail pharmacies.
University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s has the region’s largest coordinated network of pediatric primary care providers, committed to delivering the very best care to children of all ages, including routine immunizations. Find a UH Rainbow pediatric practice near you.
Tags: RSV infection