RSV Vaccine to Likely Go to 1st Recipients Before Fall Illness Season, With More Doses to Come, Officials Say

Some states began administering third doses of either the Pfizer or Modern vaccine as early as this week.

While many associate RSV with children, older adults are typically the highest risk, with up to 10,000 RSV-related deaths in the U.S. every year.

Doctors around the U.S. are anticipating the new vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to be readily available to Americans 60 and older by this coming fall. 

This projection comes as the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approved of the vaccine last week, a landmark achievement after six decades were spent by researchers to develop such protection against the virus. Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, called the vaccine’s approval last week “an important public health achievement” in a statement.

RSV is highly contagious and common, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with most Americans having been infected at least once in their first two years of life.

It often leads to lung and sinus infections, but can cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis in vulnerable populations, including older adults, according to the FDA. “Older adults, in particular those with underlying health conditions such as heart or lung disease or weakened immune systems, are at a high risk for severe disease caused by RSV,” Marks said.

The approval of Arexvy, the vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, is anticipated to prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths around the country, according to the NIH.

More RSV vaccines, including ones developed by Pfizer and Moderna, are also under review and are anticipated in the coming months, according to the Washington Post.

Annually, RSV leads to approximately 6,000 to 10,000 deaths among adults 65 years and older, 100 to 300 deaths in children younger than 5 years old, and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations around the country.

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