Health, Pregnancy & Baby, Stages

A New Vaccine Hits the Scene: What Parents Need to Know About New Immunization for RSV

As fall and the dreaded cold and flu season approaches, parents, especially those of new babies, are aware of the risks posed by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and now COVID-19. Fortunately, now there are vaccinations for all three. These vaccines aid in protecting the most vulnerable in our population from respiratory viruses that affect a larger number of children each year.

The flu vaccine is recommended for all people, ages six months and older, and can be received ahead of flu season each year. In June of 2022, we hit a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19, when the vaccine became available for kids ages six months and older. Now, we have a new immunization that helps to fortify babies’ defenses against RSV.

What parents should know about the new RSV vaccine
A drug called Nirsevimab was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to protect babies from RSV, which is the leading cause of hospitalizations in infants less than one year of age. Approximately 58,000-80,000 children younger than five are hospitalized with RSV each year.

RSV can cause a mild, cold-like illness called bronchiolitis, but it can also cause severe respiratory disease and lead to hospitalization. It can be especially dangerous for premature infants, babies younger than a year old, children under two with chronic lung or congenital heart disease, and those with weak immune systems, and neuromuscular disorders, including the elderly.

The Nirsevimab RSV vaccine gives infants extra antibodies to help the immune system in defend itself against the virus. According to the CDC, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of both hospitalizations and healthcare visits for RSV in infants by about 80 percent.

The CDC recommends that infants younger than eight months receive one dose of Nirsevimab before or during their first RSV season. Nirsevimab is expected to be available later this year, ahead of the 2023-2024 RSV season. Parents should talk to their child’s pediatrician on the timing of the RSV season, as this varies regionally.

Why immunizations are important for kids
As we know, vaccines like Nirsevimab help the immune system defend against germs and protect babies and children by building up their natural defenses. One of our best defenses against viruses and childhood illnesses is to ensure that children are up to date on their recommended vaccination schedules.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nationally, there has been a steep drop in routine immunizations for children. While there are sure to be a number of reasons why children in record numbers are not being immunized according to recommended schedules, we must remember that neglecting these immunizations may cause a health crisis.

Over the past few years, cases of measles and mumps, which were very rare in the U.S. thanks to vaccinations, are now on the rise because many are opting out of immunizations. As we enter the fall, a common season for viral illnesses, please remember the importance of timely immunizations to keep kids healthy and to prevent a global health crisis.

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