Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that causes generally mild, cold-like symptoms. The virus usually occurs in the late fall through early spring months.
Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of hospitalization in babies in the first year of life.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain immunizations that can reduce the risk of RSV-related complications and hospitalizations.
- Nirsevimab, or Beyfortus, is approved for infants and young children. The 100 mg dose approved for children weighing 11 pounds and over is in very limited supply.
- Arexvy (RSVPreF3) and Abrysvo (RSVpreF) are approved for adults age 60 and older. These vaccines contain a part of the RSV virus and work by causing an immune response that can protect you from respiratory disease if you are infected with RSV in the future.
- Abrysvo (RSVpreF) is recommended for use during pregnancy . It is given during RSV season to people who are 32 through 36 weeks in order to protect infants from severe complications related to RSV.
Who Should Get the RSV Immunization?
Adults age 60 and over
Adults age 60 and older can receive the RSV vaccine using a shared decision model through which the decision to be vaccinated is made on an individual level and informed by a decision process between the health care provider and the patient
Established U-M Health primary care patients can make an appointment with your primary care clinic to receive the vaccine. Because the vaccine appointment needs to include a shared decision-making conversation with your provider, these are individual vaccine appointments and are not able to be provided through a community vaccine clinic event.
It is recommended that pregnant individuals receive the RSV immunization between week 32 and week 36 of the pregnancy. Vaccination during pregnancy provides important protections for infants, which is particularly important since the U.S. is experiencing shortages of the RSV immunization that is recommended for children.
Established patients who are receiving their prenatal care from U-M Health can receive the RSV immunization at one of their routine prenatal appointments. No special appointment is needed.
Infants weighing less than 11 pounds
The dose required for children weighing less than 11 pounds is in very limited supply.
Newborn infants who weigh less than 11 pounds and are younger than 6 months of age are at highest risk and are encouraged to get the RSV immunization.
Newborns born at Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital may be able to receive immunization in our birth center. In addition, infants who are established patients of a U-M Health pediatrician or family medicine provider may receive their RSV immunization at their newborn or 2-week follow-up appointment depending on immunization availability.
Children weighing 11 pounds or more
The dose required for children weighing more than 11 pounds is in very limited supply.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has directed providers to prioritize this RSV immunization dosage for children at highest risk for serious illness from RSV. This includes:
- Infants less than 6 months of age
- Infants age 6 months through 7 months who have a medical condition that increases their risk for serious illness from RSV
- American Indian and Alaska Native infants aged less than 8 months
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get the RSV vaccine somewhere else?
Adults may also find the RSV vaccine available through retail pharmacies and public health departments.
Supplies of the RSV immunization for children are very limited across the nation this year. Most retail pharmacies are not expected to offer the vaccine for children, and most health providers will only be able to provide immunization to some of their established patients. All health providers have been directed by the CDC to prioritize the larger dose of the pediatric immunization to children at the highest risk for serious illness from RSV.
What can I do to prevent RSV if my child cannot receive the immunization?
- Keep your family up to date on other immunizations, especially the COVID-19 vaccination and flu vaccination.
- Limit your baby’s exposure to crowds and individuals with colds. Keep children home from school or child care when they are sick and teach them to cover their coughs and sneezes.
- Be sure your family makes a habit of washing hands with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
- Disinfect objects and surfaces in your home regularly and avoid exposing your child to smoke from tobacco or other substances.
- Feed your baby breastmilk. It has unique antibodies to prevent and fight infections.