Who's at risk for severe RSV?
Some children have an increased risk of getting very sick from RSV. These include:
- Infants born prematurely (at gestational age 32 weeks or before)
- Infants younger than 6 months old
- Children younger than 2 years old who have chronic lung or heart disease
- Children with weakened immune systems
- Children with neuromuscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy
Keeping your child safe
The same simple practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the flu can also protect against RSV. These include regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces (such as toys and doorknobs), frequent handwashing (for both your child and you), and staying away from people who are sick.
For children at risk of severe RSV, antibody shots can add an extra layer of protection. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, these drugs give your child a temporary boost during respiratory virus season (November to May), similar to a flu shot.
- Palivizumab (Synagis) provides protection for one month and is approved for certain high-risk children and infants.
- Nirsevimab-alip (Beyfortus) provides protection for five months and is approved for all infants under 8 months old as well as certain high-risk children under 2 years. The FDA approved this medication in July 2023 and supplies around the country remain limited.
Getting the RSV vaccine
RSV vaccines are not part of the normal immunization program, so they require a referral. Eligibility depends on your child's condition and age during RSV season. Talk with your child's primary care doctor to find out more.
Antibody shots given during pregnancy (between 32 and 36 weeks) can also help protect your baby against RSV. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting this preventive treatment.