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The New RSV Vaccine and Antibody Shot: Dr. Muzna Atif Breaks Down How Older Adults, Parents and Children Can Protect Themselves

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The New RSV Vaccine and Antibody Shot: Dr. Muzna Atif Breaks Down How Older Adults, Parents and Children Can Protect Themselves

As the fall and winter seasons approach, cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are rising again. Last year, pediatric units across the nation were overwhelmed with children admitted for RSV. This year, we have tools to fight against the virus. Dr. Muzna Atif, pediatric hospitalist, and medical director of inpatient pediatric hospitalist services at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center explains the new vaccine for pregnant people and older adults and the antibody shot for infants.

State health officials are urging eligible Americans to get the vaccines ahead of the winter respiratory season, especially after several years of unpredictable viral activity.

Individuals of all ages can get an RSV infection, but those at highest risk for severe disease include:

  • Premature infants and infants up to 12 months, especially those 6 months and younger
  • Pregnant people
  • Older adults over the age of 60
  • Individuals with chronic heart or lung disease and compromised immune systems

What do the vaccines and antibody shots do?

The RSV vaccines and the infant antibody shot are meant to drastically reduce cases of the virus that typically affects infants, pregnant people, older adults, and those who have chronic diseases and are immune compromised. Expectant parents and those with young babies now have two ways to protect their children through the RSV vaccine for pregnant women and an antibody shot for infants.

What is the RSV antibody shot for infants?

The drug Nirsevimab, sold under the brand name Beyfortus, is a monoclonal antibody injection that can be given as a single dose to infants younger than 8 months during their first RSV season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all infants who are less than 8 months old at the start of R.S.V. season receive Nirsevimab. Children between the ages of 8 months and 19 months are also recommended to get the shot if they have an increased risk for severe disease.

Nirsevimab is an intramuscular injection in the thigh. Children under the age of 2 who are at risk of severe RSV infections, such as those with congenital heart disease or premature infants facing ongoing respiratory and lung challenges, may be eligible for a second dose during their second RSV season.

What is the RSV vaccine for pregnant people?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an RSV vaccine that is administered to pregnant people at 32-36 weeks of gestation to protect their babies from RSV for their first 6 months after birth. The Pfizer ABRYSVO™ single dose shot starts the production of antibodies that transfer from mother to infant through the placenta. Talk to your physician or pharmacist to determine if you are eligible for the vaccine.

What is the RSV shot for older adults?

The RSV vaccine can protect people ages 60 and older. Those who are eligible can receive the vaccine at certain Walgreens locations in the Unites States. Talk to your healthcare provider or physician to find out if the RSV vaccine is right for your health plan.

For more information, visit Children’s Services at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center or 909.865.9858.