Every autumn, when the weather gets colder and the leaves change color, hospitals that take care of sick kids start getting ready for a virus called RSV. RSV is not like the flu or COVID, but it’s the main reason why so many babies end up in the hospital every year. This virus can make their small airways swell up, making it really hard for them to breathe. RSV can also be deadly for older people, like grandparents, and it causes the deaths of 6,000 to 10,000 elderly Americans each year.
For a very long time, there was no way to stop this virus from coming back every year. Scientists tried to make a vaccine to prevent it, but they didn’t succeed. Then, all of a sudden, the vaccines started to work.
This year, doctors have not just one, but several new shots to stop RSV. Three of them were approved by the FDA (the agency that checks if medicines are safe and effective) one after the other in recent months:
- There’s a shot called nirsevimab, which is like medicine that helps babies who are too young to get regular vaccines.
- Pfizer made a vaccine for adults over 60 and for pregnant mothers. When pregnant moms get this vaccine, they can pass on some protection to their babies.
- GlaxoSmithKline also made a vaccine for adults over 60.
All of these new vaccines mean that we’re entering a new era in the fight against RSV.