Breaking News
More () »

RSV vaccine now available for vulnerable groups: HealthLink

A Seattle Children's pediatric infectious disease specialist weighs in on the preventative options for babies, pregnant women, and older patients.

SEATTLE — New preventative measures are now available ahead of the respiratory infection season this fall, with the FDA approving a vaccine and an antibody for RSV.

RSV, short for respiratory syncytial virus, hit young kids and babies especially hard in recent seasons.

In 2022, Public Health - Seattle & King County issued a health advisory due to a surge in RSV cases.

"Last year, we started seeing RSV earlier, almost kind of at the end of summer, early fall, which caught us a bit off guard," said Dr. Sara Vora.

Vora is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children's. She said hospitals saw a rise in RSV cases last year and the year before. While it's not clear exactly why, the pandemic may have been a factor.

"Certainly the effects of the COVID pandemic really kind of shifted the epidemiology of a lot of our viruses," Vora said.

The FDA has already approved a vaccine ahead of this fall and upcoming respiratory virus season.

They include a vaccine for adults 60 years and older, a vaccine for pregnant women, and a monoclonal antibody for infants and toddlers up to age 2.

"That will provide the protection we have been waiting for young infants," Vora said.

Vora added that RSV infection can be especially concerning for babies and young children because of their smaller airways.

"They tend to have kind of more severe symptoms or they have trouble breathing," Vora said.

For older aged kids and healthy adults, RSV feels similar to the flu or cold-like symptoms. However, among infants, it can cause a syndrome called bronchiolitis.

"Just a fancy word for inflamed airways, which can make them really have trouble breathing, breathe fast," Vora said.

A vaccine is not yet available for other age groups, since the focus now is helping the most vulnerable who now have the tools to fight RSV.

"I think what we're all hoping for as pediatricians is to never see a repeat of last fall and winter," Vora said.

WATCH: KING 5's HealthLink playlist on YouTube

Before You Leave, Check This Out