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CDC Health Advisory: RSV Cases on the Rise; Time for Preventative Action Is Now

On Sept. 5th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Advisory to notify clinicians and caregivers about increases in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity across some parts of the Southeastern U.S. in recent weeks, suggesting a continued shift toward seasonal RSV trends observed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, such regional increases have predicted the beginning of RSV season nationally, with increased RSV activity spreading north and west over the following two to three months. RSV can cause severe disease in infants, young children, and older adults.

In anticipation of the onset of the 2023-24 RSV season, the CDC is encouraging preparation through implementation of new RSV prevention options. Two new vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV disease. For adults ages 60 years and older, clinicians should offer a single dose of an RSV vaccine, either RSVPreF3 (Arexvy, GSK) or RSVpreF (Abrysvo™, Pfizer). More detailed information on RSV and these vaccines is available here.

Who Should Receive an RSV Vaccine?

  • The CDC recommends that adults ages 60 years and older receive a single dose of RSV vaccine (either product) to prevent RSV-associated lower respiratory tract disease.
  • Vaccination should be prioritized in adults ages 60 years and older who are most likely to benefit, including those with certain chronic medical conditions associated with increased risk of severe RSV disease, such as heart disease, lung disease, and immunocompromising conditions.
  • Adults with advanced age and those living in nursing homes or other long term care facilities are also at increased risk of severe RSV disease and may benefit from RSV vaccination.

Can the RSV Vaccine Be Co-Administered with Other Vaccines?

  • Health care providers can co-administer the vaccines for which a patient is eligible in the same visit, including RSV, COVID-19, and influenza vaccines.
  • When deciding whether to co-administer other vaccines with the RSV vaccine at the same visit, providers can consider:
    • whether the patient is up to date with currently recommended vaccines;
    • the feasibility of their returning for additional vaccine doses;
    • their risk of acquiring vaccine-preventable disease;
    • the vaccine reactogenicity profiles; and
    • patient preferences.

Testing symptomatic patients with high-risk conditions for COVID-19, influenza, and RSV to inform treatment decisions continues to be strongly encouraged. Although treatment for RSV is supportive, diagnostic testing can help identify patients who might benefit from medications to treat other respiratory pathogens such as COVID-19 and influenza. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) is the preferred method for testing for respiratory viruses. Early detection remains one of the most important factors in disease severity and progression.

Reminding health care personnel and staff at long term care facilities that they should stay home and not go to work when they have fever or symptoms of respiratory infection to reduce the spread of respiratory infections including RSV remains a vital part of proactive measures in respiratory disease prevention. More information on the CDC’s predictions for the fall respiratory season and the CDC Health Advisory can be accessed here and here

Contact: Carrie Mosley, cmosley@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8383 ext. 147