RSV and the Arexvy Vaccine
December 1, 2023
You’ve received the seasonal influenza vaccine and are up-to-date on your COVID booster doses. Perhaps you’ve heard about or your doctor has recommended a new vaccine for a virus called RSV. Here is some information on the vaccine and the virus that it targets to help you decide if it’s right for you.
What is RSV?
RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. It is not a new virus. It normally circulates in people along with the influenza virus from October through March, and more often than not only causes symptoms mild symptoms. It may, however cause serious infections in the lower respiratory tract, with infants and older adults being the most likely to get the most sick.
What do we know about the vaccine?
Right now, the Arexvy vaccine is approved for adults over 60 years of age. This vaccine may reduce the likelihood that you need to see a doctor because of an RSV infection by about 85%, but we don’t really know if it is effective at preventing hospitalizations or deaths. Most people have no side effects from the vaccine. It does contain an adjuvant however, that can make side effects like fever and body aches after receiving the vaccine a little bit more likely. These side effects are due to the body’s immune response to the vaccine.
The vaccine is not free like the flu shot. It can cost around $270, although some private insurance plans can cover part of the cost. It is also not known yet how long the vaccine provides protection, or if it might be needed annually.
This vaccine can be given at the same time as the influenza vaccine and COVID boosters.
Who should consider getting it?
If you are over 60 years old, it is certainly worth having a conversation with your pharmacist or physician about the RSV vaccine. The people who would benefit the most from this vaccine are those people over 60 years of age who are also at the highest risk of severe RSV infection. This would include older adults with diabetes, COPD, or cardiovascular diseases.