Question: I heard there are vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). What are they and who should get them?

Answer: In 2023, the FDA approved two vaccines to protect adults from RSV. These vaccines help older adults and infants who could get very sick from RSV.

Question: What should I know about RSV?

Answer: RSV is a common virus that usually causes symptoms like a cold. But it can be serious for older adults, babies, and people with certain health problems. It can cause pneumonia and bronchitis, which can be very dangerous. The RSV vaccine can protect you from infection 80% of the time and severe disease 94% of the time. It protects adults 60 or older for at least two winters, the time of year when RSV is most common.

Question: What are the RSV vaccines?

Answer: Both AREXVY by GSK and ABRYSVO by Pfizer protect against RSV, a virus that causes lung infections. The vaccines use special technology to help your body fight RSV. You get them as a single shot. Young infants born and susceptible children up to 24 months of age also qualify for a different injectable medicine to prevent RSV, which is not covered in this post. To learn more visit this CDC page.

Question: Who should get the RSV vaccine?

Answer: The CDC says adults 60 and older, pregnant women between 32 and 36 weeks get the RSV vaccine. . Older adults who also have chronic diseases like heart or lung disease, diabetes, or a weak immune system might benefit more from the vaccines. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which vaccine is best for you and when to get it.

Question: How are the RSV vaccines different?

Answer: Both vaccines protect against RSV, but they’re made by different companies and used for different things. AREXVY and ABRYSVO both are single shots for adults 60 and older. But ABRYSVO is also for women between 32 and 36 weeks pregnant. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which vaccine is best for you based on your health.

Question: How many doses of RSV vaccine do I get?

Answer: Currently both vaccines are given as a single shot. Data shows these vaccines are up to 94% effective at preventing severe disease for at least 2 winter seasons. Future guidance may change, and a booster shot may be recommended.

Question: What side effects could the RSV vaccine cause?

Answer: Like all vaccines, the RSV vaccines might cause temporary side effects as your body learns to fight RSV. Common side effects include pain, redness, or swelling where you got the shot, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and low fever. These usually go away in a few days. If you have severe or long-lasting symptoms, call your doctor.

For more information on RSV vaccines and other vaccines, visit the CDC website or talk to your doctor or local pharmacist.


Prepared by Giovanni Simpson PharmD Candidate 2024