Babies Should Get New RSV Shot This Fall: CDC

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Aug. 4, 2023 – The CDC is recommending that all babies younger than 8 months old get a shot this fall or winter to protect against respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. 

RSV usually causes mild cold symptoms, but babies with their first infection are at a heightened risk for severe complications, such as pneumonia or swelling of the small airways in their lungs. An estimated 1% to 3% of children under the age of 12 months are hospitalized each year due to RSV.

“As we head into respiratory virus season this fall, it’s important to use these new tools available to help prevent severe RSV illness,” said CDC Director Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH. “I encourage parents of infants to talk to their pediatricians about this new immunization and the importance of preventing severe RSV.”

The move comes less than a month after the FDA approved the injection for babies and some high-risk toddlers. The CDC also recommends that high-risk children under the age of 19 months old get nirsevimab, which is marketed under the brand name Beyfortus. 

Beyfortus contains monoclonal antibodies, which the CDC describes as human-made proteins that mimic naturally occurring ones that help the immune system fight infections. The single shot is expected to last the duration of one RSV season, which typically occurs during the fall and winter months. 

Clinical trials showed that Beyfortus can reduce the risk of both hospitalizations and outpatient clinic visits for RSV in infants by about 80%. The shot will be free for about half of eligible U.S. children under the income-based Vaccines for Children program.