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RSV Vaccine Offers New Hope in Preventing Severe Respiratory Infections

By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, June 20, 2023 6:54 pm

In the midst of a pandemic, it’s natural for images of COVID-19 patients on respirators to come to mind when discussing respiratory diseases. However, there is another concerning illness that claims the lives of up to 14,000 patients annually: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This highly infectious virus spreads through coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces without proper hand hygiene.

RSV has been described by infectious disease experts as “the last great big respiratory virus” that afflicts our population on a yearly basis. But there’s good news – a vaccine for RSV is now available, offering hope for the most vulnerable individuals.

Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Medical Director of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, emphasizes the significance of this vaccine breakthrough. “The nice part is, the population that is the most vulnerable, we now have a vaccine,” he explains. Currently, the vaccine is recommended for individuals over the age of 60, and recently, it has become eligible for pregnant women between 24 and 36 weeks of gestation.

In addition, Pfizer has developed a vaccine specifically for newborns. This Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the CDC Advisory Board on immunization practices will convene to discuss the optimal use of the RSV vaccine. If approved, the vaccine could be made available nationwide starting in the fall, potentially offered alongside the annual flu shot.

Clinical trials have shown the RSV vaccine to be effective, with success rates ranging from 67% to 85% in preventing RSV infections. Dr. Curry-Winchell highlights the impact of RSV, stating that it leads to the hospitalization of approximately 57,000 children every year. This underscores the importance of pregnant women considering vaccination once the official recommendations are finalized.

Dr. Curry-Winchell further explains the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women, as it allows antibodies to pass from mother to baby, offering protection against RSV. This protection can mitigate the severity of the infection in newborns, providing a vital defense for the younger generation.

While the final recommendations are pending release, the Washoe County Health District clarifies that they will not be offering the RSV vaccine to seniors or pregnant women. Instead, they advise patients to consult their private physicians or local pharmacies for access to the vaccine.

As the potential for a nationwide rollout of the RSV vaccine approaches, there is renewed hope in preventing the severe impact of this respiratory virus. By taking proactive measures, such as vaccination, we can protect both older adults and the younger generation from the devastating effects of RSV.

Please consult your healthcare provider for the most up-to-date information on RSV vaccination availability and recommendations.

Credits: KOLOTV

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