RSV vaccine for older adults to begin this fall, says CDC 

RSV vaccine for older adults starting this fall. (Photo via Pexels/RF._.studio)
RSV vaccine for older adults starting this fall. (Photo via Pexels/RF._.studio)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Thursday, announced that the RSV vaccine for older adults, i.e., ones aged 60 or above will be available this fall.

However, they’ve also advised that people should first consult their doctors before moving ahead with the vaccination.

GSK and Pfizer RSV vaccine approval

The newly approved RSV vaccine for older adults are from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer. (Photo via Pexels/cottonbro studio)
The newly approved RSV vaccine for older adults are from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer. (Photo via Pexels/cottonbro studio)

According to U.S. health officials, the newly approved RSV vaccine for older adults from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer is expected to be ready during the fall along with flu shots and the updated COVID-19 vaccines.

These vaccines will be given using shared clinical decision-making, meaning that people will receive a single shot of the vaccine based on consultation with their doctors about whether the vaccine is safe for them.


What is respiratory syncytial virus infection?

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) leads to infection in the respiratory tract and lungs. (Photo via Pexels/Cottonbro Studio)
RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) leads to infection in the respiratory tract and lungs. (Photo via Pexels/Cottonbro Studio)

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) leads to infection in the respiratory tract and lungs and is common among older adults and children. Mostly it causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but in severe cases, the symptoms can be quite serious, if not treated at the right time.

Respiratory syncytial virus is also one of the most common causes of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants and can cause severe infection in babies 12 months and younger, particularly premature babies and older adults with lung and heart problems. RSV can also affect people with a weak immune system.

According to the CDC, every year, RSV causes 6,000 to 10,000 deaths among older adults.


Symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus

RSV symptoms in newborns

Symptoms of RSV in newborns are quite serious and often appear 5-6 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include:

  • severe cough
  • unusual breathing
  • difficulty breathing
  • lethargy
  • irritability
  • fever
  • difficulty feeding
  • runny nose
  • wheezing and sneezes
  • chest pain

Symptoms of RSV in adults and older adults

RSV vaccine for older adults: Symptoms of RSV includes fever and cough. (Photo via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)
RSV vaccine for older adults: Symptoms of RSV includes fever and cough. (Photo via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)

Symptoms of RSV in adults and older adults are quite common.

They include dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, fever, severe headache, sneezing, sore throat and chills. In severe cases, however, the infection can spread to the lower respiratory tract and may lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis.

Major symptoms of serious RSV infection may include:

  • difficulty or rapid breathing
  • severe cough
  • high fever
  • changes in the skin color due to lack of oxygen

How long are you contagious with RSV?

Most infected people are usually contagious for 4-8 days and may get infected a day or two before they start noticing signs and symptoms.

However, infants and people with a weak immune system can continue to transmit the virus for four or more weeks and even when they have stopped experiencing symptoms.


Is the Pfizer RSV vaccine safe during pregnancy?

Yes, the Pfizer RSV vaccine is safe for pregnant women and is recommended by the FDA as a tool to protect newborns from the disease. That's because newborns and older adults are at much higher risk for RSV than others.

A study from Pfizer has also shown that its RSV vaccine is 82% effective in preventing RSV infections in babies from birth to three months old.


GSK and Pfizer vaccines: First licensed RSV vaccine for older adults in United States

As per the CDC, both vaccines are the first licensed ones in the US that will protect older adults against the dangers of RSV.

Health officials reckon that these vaccinations will protect older adults against severe symptoms of RSV, particularly at a time when respiratory and other infections are expected to spread.

However, the RSV vaccine for older adults should only be given after proper consultation with a healthacre provider.

The CDC has advised that people should first consult their doctors to determine whether the RSV vaccine for older adults would be safe for their health condition.

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Edited by Bhargav
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