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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

What is respiratory syncytial virus infection?

Respiratory syncytial virus infection, usually called RSV, is a lot like a bad cold. It causes the same symptoms. And like a cold, it is very common and very contagious. Most children have had it at least once by age 2.

RSV is usually not something to worry about. But it can lead to pneumonia or other problems in some people, especially babies. So it's important to watch the symptoms and call your doctor if they get worse.

What causes RSV infection?

A virus causes RSV infection. Like a cold virus, RSV attacks your nose, eyes, throat, and lungs. It spreads like a cold too, when you cough, sneeze, or share food or drinks.

There are many kinds of RSV, so your body never becomes immune to it. You can get it again and again throughout your life, sometimes during the same season.

Incidence of RSV among Children

Approximately 58,000-80,000 children under the age of 5 and up to 3% of children in their first year of life are hospitalized due to RSV infection each year in the United States. 20-30% of children infected will develop a lower respiratory tract infection, such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia. At St. Luke's Children's Hospital, RSV infections are the most common reason for admission to our pediatric units during the winter months.

  • CDC Recommendations
    This year the CDC recommended three treatments to protect against severe RSV:

    • RSV vaccine for adults over 60.
    • RSV antibody given to babies entering or born during the RSV season.
    • RSV vaccine for unborn babies, given during pregnancy. (Given to those who are 32–36 weeks pregnant during September–January.)
    If you or your infant are at high-risk for this disease or fit into one of these groups, consider if an RSV vaccine or antibody treatment would be helpful. St. Luke’s urges everyone who can to get immunized to safeguard their health and the health of the community.

    For others who are less likely to get a severe RSV illness, everyday preventive actions, like covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands, can reduce the likelihood of spreading RSV.

  • RSV Vaccine Administration - last updated 11/30/23
    Abrysvo (available now)
    St. Luke’s began administering the Abrysvo vaccine for RSV, on Nov. 1, 2023, to people ages 60-64 and to mothers who are 32–36 weeks pregnant during RSV season. Please talk to your provider about receiving the vaccine or
    send a message through MyChart. Scheduling is not available in MyChart.

    If you are 65 or older, please schedule at a non-St. Luke’s retail pharmacy as Abrysvo is covered under Medicare Part D.

    Beyfortus (available to established patients)
    St. Luke’s began administering Beyfortus antibody treatment on Nov. 30, 2023 to established patients under 6 months and a select group of older high-risk patients due to limited supply. The immunization will be given during scheduled appointments with their physician and to a restricted number of high-risk inpatients. With limited supply of Beyfortus immunizations, infant patients who meet specific high-risk criteria may be eligible for Synagis (palivizumab) with prior authorization.

    St. Luke's is following the CDC guidelines for administering Beyfortus. Patients who have had an RSV infection this season should not seek or receive Beyfortus.

    Insurance Coverage
    Your insurance may or may not cover charges for immunizations, including Abrysvo and Beyfortus. Please check with your insurance provider to find out what’s covered.

    St. Luke's is happy to bill your insurance for services provided at our clinic, but this does not guarantee payment. You may be financially responsible for the immunization if it is not a covered benefit.

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Additional Seasonal Vaccination Information