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The RSV Vaccine: Everything You Need to Know

As we transition into the cooler seasons, certain illnesses spread more easily than in the summer months. One such case is RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), which affects an estimated 64 million people per year.

While most healthy adults can shake off the adverse effects within a few days or weeks with mild cold systems, there are real risks for infants, the elderly, or anyone with a weakened immune system. Luckily, two new RSV vaccines have been developed and approved to help combat this risk and will be available this fall.

If you are concerned about your vulnerability to RSV and are over the age of 60, then you can
book a time slot immediately to receive the vaccine at your nearest Community Pharmacy location.

Alternatively, if you have general questions about any vaccinations, then contact us today and our team will be happy to walk you through vaccine and treatment options.

What is RSV?

The RSV virus inflames the lungs, throat, and breathing passageways throughout the body making basic respiratory functions difficult and painful. If left unchecked, this virus can compound and form serious issues deep within the lungs like bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

Some early warning signs and symptoms of RSV infection are:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Pain while eating, drinking, and swallowing

The virus itself spreads quickly, most often by people via inhaling droplets from contaminated surfaces or shared areas, so avoiding it is particularly difficult even with good personal hygienic practices. 

The best means currently to mitigate the risk of RSV in the coming months is the newly developed vaccine, which helps the body create RSV-specific antibodies so it is better prepared when the actual virus appears.

How the RSV Vaccine Helps

The RSV vaccines AREXVY and ABRYSVO were produced by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer respectively. Approved by the FDA last
May, they have proven to be effective at preventing the disease from taking hold within the body. Each vaccine utilizes a similar method of prompting the body’s immune system to produce RSV antibodies by introducing newly discovered recombinant proteins into the system.

Studies conducted by the CDC have shown the vaccine reduces the risk of RSV developing by more than 80% with just a single dose. Unlike the flu shot which requires annual updates, right now only one dose of the vaccine is expected to be sufficient to protect against RSV for the foreseeable future.

Some common side effects after receiving the RSV vaccine typically include:

  • Injection site pain and soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Joint Pain
  • Nausea 
  • Fever

Most reported symptoms are mild and short-lasting, but it is recommended that people rest, stay hydrated, and take care not to overexert themselves following the injection.

For added convenience, the AREXVY vaccine shot can be administered simultaneously with the quadrivalent flu vaccine, giving the recipient protection against both diseases with a single visit.

Who Can Receive the RSV Vaccine 

There are some notable caveats about who currently is eligible to receive the RSV vaccine. Right now, only adults aged
60 or older can receive the vaccine as they are the most at risk from the effects of the virus.

Notably for infants up to two years of age, there is currently a new antibody treatment option available as well.

Those who are of age and have chronic medical conditions such as:

  • Lung diseases 
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Kidney or liver disorders
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised 

All stand to benefit in particular from receiving the RSV vaccine, along with anyone who requires long-term care and medical support. Medicare Part D plans do cover the vaccine, and after speaking with a pharmacist, you can confirm your eligibility and options.

Those who should not receive the vaccine include adults under the age of 60 and those who are allergic to any of the ingredients (AREXVY and ABRYSVO) found within the RSV vaccine. If you are unsure if you have a sensitivity to any of the chemicals listed, then an allergy test can be performed before receiving the vaccine.

Receive Proven Protection from RSV

Before receiving the RSV vaccine, people are required to contact their doctor to confirm it is the right choice for them. Once this review is complete, it is a simple matter of setting an appointment for the vaccine injection. 

With the holiday season not far from sight, you can never be too careful when it comes to personal health. The RSV vaccine is a newly developed tool that can help protect those most at risk so they can enjoy public spaces and family gatherings with additional protection from the adverse effects of RSV. 


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