Almost all children get respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at least once before they are 2 years old. For most healthy children, RSV is like a cold. But some children can get very sick from RSV. Symptoms include fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, sneezing, fussiness, fast breathing, flaring of the nostrils with breathing and wheezing.
About 58,000 to 80,000 children under age 5 are hospitalized and 100 to 300 die each year from RSV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two new products can protect babies from severe illness during RSV season, which usually occurs in late fall through early spring. One is a vaccine given to women at 32 through 36 weeks of pregnancy. The other is a monoclonal antibody called nirsevimab for babies.
- One dose of nirsevimab is recommended for all babies younger than 8 months during or right before the RSV season if their mother did not receive an RSV vaccine or if they were born less than two weeks after her vaccination.
- One dose of nirsevimab is recommended for some children ages 8 to 19 months who are entering their second RSV season and are at higher risk of serious illness.
Another product called palivizumab may be an option for some children younger than 24 months with conditions that place them at a high risk for RSV. Palivizumab is given as an injection once a month during RSV season. Children who receive nirsevimab should not get palivizumab. However, children who did not get all doses of palivizumab may be eligible for nirsevimab.
Parents and caregivers should discuss RSV options with their doctor to determine which treatment is best for their child.
More information about RSV is available from HealthyChildren.org at https://bit.ly/3t7RS7N.