Frequently asked Questions about RSV

Everything you need to know about Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). The following information was developed in partnership with the Washington State Department of Health.
What is RSV?

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms in healthy adults. In infants and children, however, RSV can cause severe respiratory symptoms, and can even lead to hospitalization or death.

Each year in the United States, an estimated 58,000-80,000 children younger than 5 years are hospitalized due to RSV infection. In the U.S., RSV cases start in the fall and are highest around the middle of February.

CDC - Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Immunizations

How do I protect my baby from RSV?

There are two ways. You can choose to get the RSV vaccine (Abrysvo) during weeks 32 through 36 of your pregnancy during September to January, or your baby aged 8 months or younger can get the RSV monoclonal antibody (Beyfortus) during their first RSV season. The antibody has been used in premature infants since 1998 and was recently approved for all babies under 8 months as well.

Children between 8 and 19 months of age who are at higher risk due to medical conditions or weak immune systems can also get Beyfortus in their second RSV season.

Children between 8 and 19 months of age who are American Indian and Alaska Native are also recommended to get Beyfortus in their second RSV season since they are at more risk of getting severe RSV disease.

Beyfortus costs about twice the amount of Abrysvo, but health insurance companies are updating their coverage to include both. Some clinics and pharmacies may not carry both. Check with your insurance and physician or pharmacy to see what is covered and available for you.

Use of Immunoprophylaxis for Prevention of Severe Respiratory Syncytial Virus Bronchiolitis
CDC - Vaccine Price List
KFF Health News - Timing and Cost of New Vaccines

Why should I get the RSV vaccine when I’m pregnant?

The RSV vaccine is recommended during the third trimester of pregnancy because it helps protect your newborn from the RSV virus, which can cause serious lung infections in newborns. When you are vaccinated for RSV during pregnancy, your body produces germ-fighting cells that cross the placenta and can help protect your newborn baby. This is similar to how the Tdap (Whooping cough) vaccine can protect your baby.

CDC - RSV Vaccination for Pregnant People

What are the recommendations for the RSV vaccine in pregnancy?

Pregnant people should be vaccinated between weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy from September through January, which is the season when people tend to get sick with RSV. This way, your baby is protected against lung infections related to RSV in the first months of life. The vaccine can reduce a baby’s risk of being hospitalized from RSV by 57% in the first six months after birth.

CDC - RSV Vaccination for Pregnant People

When should I get vaccinated for RSV?

You are eligible to be vaccinated for RSV in pregnancy if you are between 32-36 weeks during RSV season, from September through January.  See the table below for a helpful timeline of when you can first get the vaccination based on your due date.

I am due in...
I am eligible to be vaccinated in...

If you are due between April and October, it is recommended that your newborn receive the RSV vaccination within one week after birth.

Is the RSV vaccine safe for me and my baby?

Yes! The RSV vaccine has undergone safety studies in populations including pregnant individuals. Any vaccine can carry the risk of a temporary injection site reaction, like itching or pain. It is safe to breastfeed after getting the vaccine as well. It has not been shown to be excreted in breast milk.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus Prefusion F Vaccine

I have heard that the RSV vaccine causes preterm labor. Is that true?

People at risk of preterm labor are not usually included in drug and vaccine trials, so it can be hard to assess this. Additional studies are underway to evaluate this risk, so the vaccine is currently approved in the late third trimester to reduce any potential safety concerns.

Healthcare Providers: RSV Vaccination for Pregnant People

What about pre-eclampsia?

When the maternal RSV vaccine was being studied in a clinical trial, a high blood pressure condition called preeclampsia occurred in 1.8% of pregnant individuals who received the RSV vaccine compared to 1.4% of pregnant individuals who received a placebo. This difference was small and not found to be statistically significant.  The benefits of receiving the RSV vaccine during pregnancy outweigh this risk, which is why the vaccine was approved and is recommended to protect moms and babies from RVS.  The FDA is also requiring the RSV vaccine manufacturer to do additional studies that will look more closely at preeclampsia risk.

Pfizer Abrysvo Label

Should people in my family also get the RSV vaccine?

The RSV vaccine (Arexvy or Abrysvo) is recommended for adults over 60 years old based on a discussion with their primary care provider. Currently, there is no vaccine approved for non-pregnant adults under 60 years old.

Where can I get the RSV vaccine or the RSV monoclonal antibody?

Most clinics carry the RSV vaccine during the RSV season, and you can receive the vaccine at one of your routine visits.  If your provider does not carry the RSV vaccine, most local pharmacies can provide the vaccine. Check with your pharmacy to make sure they carry the Abrysvo vaccine. You can use this link to locate a clinic or pharmacy near you that offers the RSV vaccine.

Abrysvo Vaccine Locator: Find ABRYSVO™ (Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine)

If you do not get vaccinated against RSV during your pregnancy, your baby can receive the RSV monoclonal antibody in the hospital shortly after birth.

What is the RSV monoclonal antibody?

When we are exposed to a new germ, our bodies make proteins called “antibodies” that help us fight off viruses and bacteria. Beyfortus is an antibody product that protects your baby from RSV. The effect of Beyfortus is similar to getting a vaccine but it skips the step where the vaccine activates your body’s immune system to make the antibodies. Instead, Beyfortus provides the antibodies directly to your baby to prevent them from getting sick from RSV!

CDC - Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Preventive Antibody

What are the recommendations for the RSV monoclonal antibody (Beyfortus) for newborns?

If you elect not to receive the RSV vaccine, an alternative option to protect your newborn is to give them the RSV monoclonal antibody within 1 week of birth.

CDC - RSV Immunization for Infants and Young Children

What is better: the RSV vaccine during pregnancy or the RSV monoclonal antibody shortly after birth?

They are both effective! As of now, studies have not compared the two  options directly. However, both have been shown to provide protection against RSV to vulnerable infants. You should choose what works best for you and your family, taking into account whether you are eligible to receive the vaccination in pregnancy based on your due date.

Still have questions?

Still have questions?  We are happy to answer your questions.
You may give us ideas how to explain vaccines in pregnancy better.  
For any personalized medical questions, we recommend you contact your medical team.

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