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While We Await an RSV Vaccine, Staying Current on Other Vaccinations is Our Best Shot to Staying Healthy

October 27, 2022   |   Katrin Werner-Perez   |   Vaccines, Healthy Aging, Vaccination (Health Education), COVID-19, Blog

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, commonly called RSV, is a respiratory virus that causes infection in the lungs and respiratory tract. Symptoms are usually mild and cold-like, but they can become severe and lead to complications like difficulty breathing, hospitalization, and death. Since RSV is common in kids under the age of two, there is a misconceived notion that it’s just a “little kids’ virus,” and therefore there isn’t a lot of education about RSV in adults. However, it’s quite common in older adults over the age of 65, and every year over 14,000 older Americans die from RSV. Despite how common it is, RSV is vastly underdiagnosed, so the actual numbers are thought to be considerably higher.

In recent weeks, physicians around the U.S. have seen an alarming rate of RSV cases. Many hospitals around the country are overwhelmed and at capacity in what is considered to be the worst surge in 25 years. Because viruses can lower our immunity to other infections and illnesses, contracting RSV may increase the risk of getting COVID-19 or the flu, or lead to more intense and serious symptoms. These infections can even occur simultaneously which poses a higher risk to older adults.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of several preventative measures, including mask-wearing, handwashing, and vaccinations – all of which can help prevent the spread of RSV. While an RSV vaccine is not currently available, several are in development and expected to be available soon. In the meantime, other precautions can o be taken to prevent the spread of infection, like covering coughs and sneezes, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and staying home when sick.

This Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Awareness Month, the Alliance has released new educational films Respiratory Syncytial Virus: Not Just a Little Kids Virus, a pediatrician’s story about RSV on video, a social media toolkit, and more to help spread awareness about this virus and how older adults can stay healthy. Learn more at

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