What You Need to Know About the New RSV Shots (Updated 1/24)
We’re starting to get lots of questions about the new RSV vaccines, so we thought an update would be helpful…
We’re well into RSV season now, and we know there continues to be a lot of media attention on our old foe RSV, and on the new medications to combat it.
Unfortunately the manufacturer of Beyfortus, the monoclonal antibody for infants, did not anticipate such high demand for the medication, and it continues to be in very short supply. The medication that has been produced is being reserved for the highest risk infants in hospital settings, and the manufacturer does not expect to have more this season.
We’re continuing to monitor the situation closely. If more becomes available this season, we will jump on it and let you know. But the expectation at this point is that we, and other primary care offices around the country, should have it available for our patients for next winter’s RSV season.
In the meantime, there’s one other important way we can help protect our youngest infants: Moms can receive an RSV vaccine during their third trimester of pregnancy. This vaccine has been proven to be both safe and effective, and it passes Mom’s immunity from the vaccine on to the baby, protecting them from RSV infection during the first 6 months of life — a time when they’re especially vulnerable to RSV.
If you’re pregnant, talk with your obstetrician about the RSV vaccine.
An Important Distinction
An Important Clarification
The one for kids, despite media use of the term, is not technically a vaccine. It’s a monoclonal antibody.
Monoclonal antibodies are lab-created proteins that act like antibodies in the immune system; vaccines teach, and then prod, the immune system to create its own antibodies. So a more accurate term for the product for kids would be a new shot, or a new medication, against RSV.
Availability for Kids
The two vaccines for adults are now available.
Despite lots of media attention, the shot for kids — Beyfortus — is not available yet. It’s been approved by the FDA, but the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has not yet completed guidelines for using it, the insurers have not yet decided on coverage for it, and the manufacturer does not yet have the capacity to supply it for the entire country.
Recommendation for Kids
Once it’s available, one dose of the new RSV shot will be recommended for all babies under 8 months, as close to the start of RSV season as possible.
It will also be recommended for children up to 19 months with pre-existing conditions that put them at high risk of becoming sick if they contract RSV, such as prematurity, weakened immune system, congenital heart disease, or chronic lung disease.
As always, we’ll keep you posted as the process moves on, and we’ll let you know once the new RSV shots will be available for children.
Dr. Sarah Springer has been a Kids Plus Provider since 2003.