‘This is a new tool:’ UAB professor on newly recommended RSV vaccine

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 10:02 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - An FDA panel is now recommending a new vaccine to help prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants. The shot is given to the mom while she’s pregnant.

Some are calling it a game-changer because right now there is no vaccine to protect babies from RSV. While the illness could just result in cold-like symptoms for some babies, it could also be the cause of death for others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says each year in the United States, an estimated 60,000-80,000 children younger than five years old are hospitalized due to RSV infection. Of course, the beds for these tiny babies are a limited resource.

Jodie Dionne, a UAB Infectious Disease Associate Professor of Medicine, says the vaccine would help relieve hospitals from feeling overwhelmed while saving babies’ lives. She adds that the data in the study is very compelling.

Dionne says the Pfizer vaccine was reported to be about 80% effective in babies 0-3 months and 70% effective all the way up to six months old.

“I think this is a new tool in the toolkit that we have,” Dionne said. “Every pregnant woman that I know wants to do whatever she can to protect her baby and make sure that baby is safe during pregnancy and after pregnancy. That tiny newborn is so fragile you want to do everything to make sure they don’t get an infectious disease.“

She wants to remind moms that this vaccine isn’t something that would be required but she hopes pregnant moms will at least start the conversation with their doctor.

Before it’s available, the CDC must also give the stamp of approval.

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