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The CDC is advocating for a novel vaccine to enhance the protection of infants against severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) illness following their birth.

The CDC has issued new recommendations for safeguarding newborns against severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) illness after birth. The CDC now advises pregnant individuals to receive the first-ever RSV vaccine to protect their infants from severe RSV illness. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalizations among infants in the United States. The new vaccine, known as Pfizer’s bivalent RSVpreF vaccine (marketed as Abrysvo TM), has demonstrated a 57 percent reduction in the risk of RSV-related hospitalization during the initial six months after birth.

To optimize protection for newborns, the CDC suggests administering one dose of the RSV vaccine to pregnant individuals between weeks 32 and 36 of pregnancy during each RSV season. This vaccine is one of two recently introduced tools to shield infants from severe RSV illness. Last month, the CDC recommended an RSV immunization for infants, which has exhibited an approximately 80 percent reduction in the risk of RSV-related hospitalizations and healthcare visits among infants. In most cases, either maternal RSV vaccination or infant immunization will suffice for protection, but exceptions may arise, such as when a baby is born within two weeks of maternal immunization, prompting a doctor’s recommendation for infant immunization.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the CDC Director, emphasized the significance of these new tools in safeguarding lives during the fall and winter seasons. She encourages parents to consult with their healthcare providers regarding the most suitable method to protect their infants from severe RSV illness, whether through pregnancy vaccination or infant immunization. The RSVpreF vaccine is currently available in select locations across the United States, with availability expected to expand in the coming weeks.

This marks the first autumn and winter season in which vaccines are accessible for the three major respiratory viruses: COVID-19, RSV, and influenza. Up-to-date COVID-19 and influenza vaccines are recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older. The CDC now suggests RSV vaccination for individuals aged 60 and over, with a shared clinical decision-making approach. This means that these individuals should engage in discussions with their healthcare providers to determine the appropriateness of RSV vaccination at this time.

Individuals are encouraged to consult their healthcare providers, pharmacists, or local community health centers to ascertain which vaccines are necessary to ensure protection during the upcoming fall and winter seasons.

Additionally, on September 22, 2023, members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted, with an 11-1 majority, to endorse maternal RSV vaccination for pregnant individuals between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation, employing seasonal administration, to prevent RSV lower respiratory tract infections in infants. They also voted to approve Pfizer’s bivalent RSVpreF vaccine for inclusion in the Vaccines for Children Program, extending its coverage to pregnant individuals under 19 years of age.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)