- FDA News
by Skippack Pharmacy
The RSV Vaccine: A New Way to Prevent RSV in Elderly Populations
What is RSV?
RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a common respiratory virus that infects the upper and lower respiratory tract. It was first discovered in humans in 1957 by Robert M. Chanock who was observing respiratory illness in children. The virus attacks by ‘hijacking’ the cells found in your airway and causing them to deform when replicating and ultimately move farther down your airway and into your lungs. Your body recognizes the infection and will do its best to fight back by producing more mucus and triggering inflammation as an immune response. Unfortunately, these deformed cells and the body’s response to the virus causes symptoms which can be potentially life threatening to certain at-risk populations.
RSV Symptoms and Severity
An RSV infection shares many signs and symptoms with other common respiratory tract viruses like the common cold, the flu and COVID-19. These symptoms include fatigue, fevers, coughing, and chills. However, signs and symptoms more specific to RSV include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
In healthy adult populations, RSV is less severe and typically lasts 1 to 2 weeks before the body naturally overcomes the infection. Individuals 60+ years old are at a much greater risk for contracting RSV and are at a greater risk for dangerous symptoms including death. In fact, it is estimated that between 60,000-160,000 older adults in the United States are hospitalized and 6,000-10,000 die due to RSV infection each year (CDC).
How is It Spread and is It Preventable?
RSV is highly contagious and primarily spreads through contaminated droplets from the sneeze or cough of an infected individual. The virus in those droplets then infects someone new through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep in mind the virus can remain active on surfaces like countertops, door handles, light switches etc. for several hours. Infection rates are much higher in dense communities and hospitals due to the nature of transmission for RSV. The best practice to avoid infection of the RSV virus has been avoiding sick populations and frequently washing hands and disinfecting surfaces of contact.
We now have access to the newest method for RSV prevention to proactively take care of your health, the RSV Vaccine!
The RSV Vaccine: New for 2023
In May of 2023, the FDA approved the use of the first RSV vaccinations, Abrysvo made by Pfizer and Arexvy made by GSK, for individuals 60+ years old to prevent RSV infection. These protein-based vaccinations are the product of decades of research and clinical trials aimed to combat the spread of the RSV virus. The vaccine works by mimicking one of the subunits, or ‘building blocks’ of RSV to train your body to recognize and destroy the virus before it causes illness. Essentially the vaccine is informing the soldiers of your immune system what the enemy looks like before he invades. Clinical trials have shown that the RSV vaccination reduces the likelihood of contracting RSV in elderly populations.
Availability and Cost of The Vaccine
The RSV Vaccine will be covered for those 65+ years old by Medicare Part D- There is no out of pocket expense! For those with commercial plans, the vaccine may be covered on a case to case basis. If unsure, give us a shout, and we’ll check it out for you!
Consider The RSV Vaccine Today!
As seniors, taking proactive steps to protect your health becomes increasingly crucial. Vaccination against RSV is a simple and effective way to safeguard ourselves from this potentially life-threatening infection. Remember, prevention is key, and getting vaccinated is a powerful tool to stay resilient against RSV and its complications.
Take a proactive step taking care of your health by asking your Skippack Pharmacist about the RSV Vaccine today!
Sign up online for a vaccine appointment today or walk-in to receive the vaccine: www.SkippackPharmacy.com/Immunizations
Further Reading: rsv