Since the initial isolation in 1956 of what is now identified as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), seasonal outbreaks of illness attributable to this enigmatic respiratory virus have troubled generations of pediatricians and parents because of the absence of therapeutic options other than supportive care.1 Recognition that RSV infection is the most common cause of hospitalization among children in the first 12 months of life resulted in numerous attempts to prevent or treat this disease. Three distinct avenues have been explored: antiviral therapy, passive immunity with hyperimmune globulins and monoclonal antibodies, and active immunity with vaccines. After more than 65 years of investigation, two types of effective and practical disease prevention finally are available (Table).

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Competing Interests

CONFLICT OF INTEREST DISCLOSURES: Dr. Meissner serves as an advisor to Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and as a consultant to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on RSV.