We’ve been paying so much (quite warranted) attention to COVID that we sometimes forget that there are other viruses out there. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) can be a serious and fatal illness for infants and for older adults.
RSV has long been considered a disease of the very young. We now know differently. It is common and highly contagious. Most people have mild, cold-like symptoms, and recover in a week or two, but infants and older adults can develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. Each year in the United States, over two million adults over age 65 become ill with RSV, some 177,000 are hospitalized, and about 14,000 die.
For several years now, researchers have been working on a vaccine to protect against this virus. Finally, this year, the FDA has approved Arexvy, from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), as well as Abrysvo, from Pfizer, for those 60 and older. In addition, Abrysvo was given approval for use in pregnant women who are 32 to 36 weeks along.
Adults at increased risk for RSV should consider getting one of these RSV vaccines. This would include seniors; those with chronic lung disease, heart disease, kidney or liver disease or diabetes mellitus; those who reside in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities; pregnant women; and those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
These new RSV vaccines are safe and very effective. I urge you to speak with your doctor about whether it is appropriate for you.