ExpressScripts is optimistic about the RSV season with the approval of new vaccines
In May 2023, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) greenlit pioneering vaccines for preventing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in adults aged 60 and above. Subsequent approvals followed in June and August, introducing an extended half-life monoclonal antibody shot for newborns and children and the inaugural maternal RSV vaccine, respectively.
With an estimated 80,000 children below 5 and 160,000 adults above 65 being hospitalized annually due to RSV, these vaccines hold potential for safeguarding vulnerable populations during the approaching RSV season.
RSV, characterized by cold-like symptoms, typically emerges in the fall, peaks in winter, and wanes around April. Symptoms include a runny nose, reduced appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, irritability, fatigue, and wheezing. While it usually resolves within 1-2 weeks, infants under six months and older adults with weakened immune systems face elevated risks.
Caring for Someone with RSV:
As a viral infection, RSV lacks specific treatment, focusing instead on preventing dehydration and managing symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Medical consultation is crucial, especially for infants under six months. Caution is advised with medications like ibuprofen for infants, necessitating professional guidance.
When to Seek Medical Attention for RSV:
While healthy adults and children may not require hospitalization, severe complications can arise, particularly for infants and older adults, leading to bronchitis, pneumonia, and exacerbation of existing conditions. Urgent medical attention is necessary for breathing difficulties, dehydration, or worsening symptoms, particularly in infants exhibiting distress signs.
Protecting Against RSV:
Preventive measures include regular handwashing, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, covering coughs and sneezes, refraining from sharing items, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. High-risk infants and children under 24 months may receive Synagis® to reduce RSV risk.
Two FDA-approved vaccines offer preventive measures against RSV:
Arexvy, approved for adults aged 60 and above.
AbrysvoTM, approved for adults 60 and older, extending protection to pregnant women between weeks 32 and 36. This vaccine generates antibodies in pregnant women, safeguarding infants from severe RSV during their initial six months.
In July, the FDA also approved BeyfortusTM, a monoclonal antibody injection providing protection against RSV for infants born or entering their first RSV season and vulnerable children up to 2 years old. Not a vaccine, it offers prefabricated RSV antibodies for approximately five months.