While RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, has been around for a while, the RSV shots (one version for babies, another version for pregnant patients, and a third version for adults age 60+) are new this year.
According to Dr. Noyes, “RSV is a viral infection that can cause significant (and in some cases, life-threatening) illness in infants and very young kids. Over the course of time, we’ve realized that RSV can cause significant illness in adults as well, especially those of advanced age. Similar to the flu, RSV can exacerbate underlying cardiopulmonary problems, and when that happens, patients may require hospitalization.”
The RSV shots for babies and adults are quite different, explains Dr. Leyse. “The RSV shot for children is not a vaccine, but a dose of an actual antibody. A vaccine teaches your body to make its own antibodies, whereas their shot is the antibody itself, which is only protective for about six months – long enough to get them through their first winter.”
On the other hand, the RSV shot for older adults is a true vaccine, and it’s also durable. This means it lasts longer than a year like the vaccines we get for mumps and measles. “You won’t have to get it every year, and it could even be a one-time dose,” says Dr. Leyse. Although subject to further study, a single dose of the vaccine could protect adults for the rest of their lives.