doctor checking baby at doctors office - cdc urges rsv shot for infants

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When it comes to RSV season, we’re not out of the woods quite yet. We may now be beyond the peak of RSV cases, but that doesn’t mean that the respiratory virus isn’t still circulating at a high rate in various parts of the country. The RSV shot for infants was in short supply during the fall months, but a new delivery of 230,000 doses is expected to become available in January, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue an alert to healthcare providers urging that all eligible children should receive the immunization “as quickly as possible,” given that the virus is still making the rounds.

During the RSV shot shortage, healthcare providers were advised to reserve doses of Beyfortus (nirsevimab) for babies born later in the virus season or for those who might be at higher risk of severe illness. Now, the CDC states that shots shouldn’t be reserved, given that supply is increasing.

“Healthcare providers should not reserve nirsevimab doses for infants born later in the season when RSV circulation and risk for exposure to RSV may be lower. RSV activity remains elevated nationwide and is continuing to increase in many parts of the country, though decreased activity has been observed in the Southeast,” the agency states in the advisory.

Is your child eligible for the RSV shot? All infants under 8 months of age and children 8 months through 19 months of age who are at increased risk of severe disease are recommended to receive the immunization.

The monoclonal antibody therapy received CDC approval in August, and was met by high demand, which quickly outpaced supply, leading to the shortage.

“The shortage is pretty disheartening,” said Scott Roberts, an infectious-disease physician at Yale School of Medicine, to The Washington Post in October. “I had hoped we learned lessons from covid, where we foresee these challenges [because] it seems like this was a preventable shortage where they should have anticipated the demand.”

The price was also a prohibitive factor: The cost for a single dose of Beyfortus is $495. The federal program Vaccines for Children pays $395 per dose, but as most pediatric primary care offices must purchase the product directly from suppliers and then file a claim with insurance companies and wait to be reimbursed, it’s a significant deterrent, experts told The Post.

The CDC states that healthcare providers should continue to work with their state immunization program and the Beyfortus manufacturer (Sanofi and AstraZeneca) to order available nirsevimab doses. The agency is working closely with jurisdictional partners to ensure adequate supply through the Vaccines for Children Program.

Also approved in 2023 was Abrysvo, the first vaccine approved for pregnancy to prevent lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in babies from birth through 6 months.

Recommended by the CDC for use at 32 weeks through 36 weeks of pregnancy, Pfizer’s Abrysvo vaccine works by passing antibodies to developing infants from maternal circulation across the placenta during pregnancy, acting as a protective shield against the virus once they’re born. If a newborn’s mother has received the maternal RSV vaccine during pregnancy, then Beyfortus is generally not needed in most infants under the age of 8 months.

If you have questions about whether your baby is eligible for the RSV shot, speak to your child’s pediatrician.

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