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  1. COVID-19, Flu and RSV

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

There are FDA-approved vaccines and monoclonal antibodies for RSV now available.


Respiratory syncytial virus or RSV is a highly contagious virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most people. The virus is especially common in children, and most young children have been infected with RSV by the time they are two years old. Some people, particularly infants and older adults, are more likely to develop severe RSV disease and need hospitalization.

RSV is seasonal, typically starting in the U.S. during the fall and peaking in the winter.

RSV and Infants

Most infants and young children with RSV have mild, cold-like symptoms. But some infants, especially during their first infection, develop lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) such as pneumonia (a lung infection) or bronchiolitis (swelling of the small airway passages in the lungs). Premature infants, and those with chronic lung disease of prematurity or significant congenital heart disease, are at highest risk for complications from RSV infection. Pneumonia and bronchiolitis often lead to an emergency department or doctor office visit. RSV is the most common cause of infant hospitalization in the U.S.

Preventing RSV in Infants

There is an FDA-approved vaccine for pregnant individuals at 32 to 36 weeks gestational age to prevent LRTD and severe LRTD caused by RSV in infants from birth through 6 months of age.

Two FDA-approved monoclonal antibodies can help protect infants from RSV LRTD. Monoclonal antibodies are not vaccines. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses.

CDC recommends all children younger than 8 months receive nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody, to protect them in their first RSV season. If your child is at increased risk for severe RSV disease, talk to their doctor to determine if additional doses of monoclonal antibodies are recommended for your child (aged 8 to 19 months) as they enter their second RSV season.

The second monoclonal antibody, palivizumab, is limited to children under 24 months of age with certain conditions that place them at high risk for severe RSV disease. It must be given once a month during RSV season.

RSV and Older Adults

In older adults, RSV infection can lead to LRTD, hospitalization, and death. Older adults with certain pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and heart disease are at increased risk for hospitalization, and those with weakened immune system can have severe RSV disease.

Preventing RSV in Older Adults

There are two FDA-approved vaccines to prevent RSV LRTD  in adults ages 60 and older - Abrysvo and Arexvy. Arexvy is also approved for the prevention of LRTD caused by RSV in individuals 50 through 59 years of age who are at increased risk for LRTD caused by RSV. Talk to a health care provider to see if an RSV vaccine is right for you.

RSV Tests

Talk to a health care provider if you think you, or your child, have a respiratory illness such as RSV, COVID-19 or the flu. There are home collection tests available for all three illnesses. You can also talk to a health care provider about getting tested.

RSV Treatments

Most people with RSV will have mild, cold-like symptoms and can recover at home. Be sure adults and children with RSV symptoms get enough fluid (water and other fluids). Treat pain and fever as suggested by a health care professional. Most RSV infections go away on their own within two weeks.

RSV can be more dangerous for infants and older adults. If you or your child have trouble breathing or cannot drink or eat enough to stay hydrated (get enough fluid), call 911 or talk to a health care professional right away.

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