The Centers for Disease control has issued a health advisory alerting medical providers of an increase in RSV cases. Every year, more than 1,500 Marylanders are hospitalized because of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, more commonly referred to as RSV.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. The virus can also worsen certain medical conditions, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and congestive heart failure.
The following are the latest recommendations regarding RSV vaccine and prevention.
Two RSV vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Each vaccine requires a single dose injection.
All adults aged 60 and over should discuss the RSV vaccine with their healthcare provider. This is especially true if you are at increased risk for severe complications from RSV, based on any of the following health conditions: asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, neurologic conditions, kidney disorders, liver disorders, bleeding disorders, or have a compromised immune system. Other things that may increase your risk are frailty, advanced age, or residency in a nursing home or long-term care setting.
One of the available vaccines has also been approved for pregnant individuals between 32- and 36-weeks gestational age in pregnancy. If you are pregnant, discuss the RSV vaccine with your OB/GYN.
The RSV vaccines are available through primary care offices and some pharmacies.
RSV is especially dangerous to infants. The CDC recommends certain infants receive the FDA-approved monoclonal antibody product Beyfortus (also called nirsevimab). Beyfortus has been shown to reduce the risk of both RSV-related hospitalizations and RSV-related healthcare visits in infants by about 80%.
One dose of Beyforuts is recommended for all infants younger than 8 months, born during – or entering – their first RSV season (typically fall through spring). For a small group of children between the ages of 8 and 19 months who are at increased risk of severe RSV disease, such as children who are severely immunocompromised, a dose is recommended in their second RSV season.
Parents of infants who meet the above criteria should discuss the RSV monoclonal antibody product with their child’s pediatrician.
You can help prevent the spread of RSV by taking the same precautions used to prevent other respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19:
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow – not your hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils
- Stay home if you are sick and if you have to go our in public, wear a face mask
- Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and mobile devices
- Get vaccinated if recommended by your healthcare provider
- If you have an infant, avoid crowds, ask people to wash their hands before touching the baby, and keep the baby away from anyone with cold symptoms, including siblings and other parents or caretakers