FDA Approves First RSV Vaccine for Pregnant Women
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first RSV vaccine for pregnant women. The vaccine, made by Pfizer, is designed to protect newborns from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the leading cause of infant hospitalizations in the United States.
RSV is a respiratory virus that can cause mild cold-like symptoms in adults and older children. However, it can be serious for babies, especially those younger than 6 months old. RSV can cause pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other respiratory problems that can lead to hospitalization.
The Pfizer vaccine is given as a single shot during the 32nd-36th week of pregnancy. The vaccine helps to protect babies from RSV by passing antibodies from mom to baby through the placenta.
Dr. Constantine Economus, a Valley OBGYN, says the RSV vaccine is a “gamechanger” for pregnant women and their babies. “RSV is a problem for babies, in fact it is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the United States,” Dr. Economus said. “This vaccine is going to help to protect babies from RSV and prevent serious illness.”
Dr. Ben Neuman, a virologist, says the RSV vaccine is “very effective” at reducing severe infections in babies. “Most people just get a little cough, even most babies end up with cold like symptoms but it can become a serious pneumonia or something called bronchiolitis where the throat swells,” Dr. Neuman said. “The idea with the shot is going to reduce the risk, their statistics say about 81-82% in the first ninety days and 69% for the 180 days after that, so obviously those are big numbers.”
The RSV vaccine is expected to be available to the public by late Fall or early Winter. Dr. Economus says the most important thing pregnant women can do is talk to their doctor to see if the vaccine is right for them.