Ask the Expert - Is there a Vaccine for RSV?
Updated: Mar 8
by Dayna Thergesen, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, MSN
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a respiratory illness that affects all ages and can cause hospitalization primarily in young children, elderly, infants and children with underlying medical conditions.
There is no RSV vaccine available for use in humans. Several candidate pediatric and/or maternal vaccines have been developed and tested in clinical trials.
A preventative treatment, “Synagis” or Palivizumab, is a humanized monoclonal antibody that has shown a 50% reduction in hospitalization for high-risk groups. In clinical trials for cost/benefit analysis in preventing illness and complications in healthy populations, the RSV vaccine has shown limited effectiveness. Unfortunately, the treatment is very expensive and eligibility is limited to high-risk groups. Palivizumab needs to be given monthly via injection or IV before the RSV infection season starts and repeatedly throughout the season.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the Synagis treatment is “limited to infants born before 29 weeks gestation, and to infants with certain chronic illnesses like congenital heart disease or chronic lung disease.” (AAP Policy Statement, 7/28/2014) “With the shift in seasonality noted in 2021 and the current surge in RSV cases, the AAP continues to support the use of palivizumab in eligible infants and may extend the season longer than typical in spring 2023.” (AAP, Nov. 2022)
For all infants, especially preemies, the AAP recommends protective factors: breastfeeding, household influenza immunization, good hand and cough hygiene, avoiding smoke exposure and limiting large group childcare during the first winter season whenever possible.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, MSN Ruby Valley Medical Clinic