CDC approves RSV shot for infants to prevent hospitalization

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Thousands of children under five years old are hospitalized because of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. A new antibody immunization for infants might change that.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends a new immunization for babies under eight months old to protect them against RSV. The recommendation comes shortly after RSV vaccines became available for adults over 60, and one for pregnant women is not far behind. RSV is one of the most common causes of childhood respiratory illness.

Dr. Jennifer Middleton, a family medicine physician at OhioHealth Riverside, said RSV treatments are now available because of the scientific breakthroughs that came from the COVID-19 vaccine.

“That technology has now been able to be applied to create a vaccine for RSV, and that vaccine has kind of eluded scientists for decades,” Middleton said. “I mean, this is something that folks have been hoping for for a long time.”

Middleton said older adults and babies are most likely to be hospitalized due to RSV, so the new vaccines provide extra layers of protection for the most vulnerable.

“If the baby gets exposed to that virus, the antibodies are able to jump in, get to work, and usually prevent infection — or if there is infection, keep it a lot less severe,” Middleton said.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital said the vaccine for pregnant women is not fully approved yet, but the hospital expects shots for babies to arrive in the next few weeks. Middleton hopes OhioHealth facilities will get the vaccines for adults and immunizations for babies by fall — when RSV cases spike.

“If you have access to get these treatments before delivery, if you have access to get the vaccine, oh my gosh, get the vaccine,” Middleton said. “The safety record looks really good. The FDA’s council approved it unanimously. That doesn’t always happen.”

There is not a set date that the vaccines will be available, so doctors recommend contacting your family doctor or primary care physician with questions. The CDC has more information on RSV in infants on its website. You can also find information on the adult RSV vaccine here.

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