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Alliance Gave Public Comment on New RSV Vaccines at CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) June 21 – 22 Meeting

Published June 27, 2023

On June 21st, the Alliance’s Lindsay Clarke gave oral comments emphasizing the importance of the new RSV vaccines for older adults, discussing a recommendation for adults ages 60+, and urging prompt publication in the MMWR so that shots could be in arms for the upcoming cold and flu season.

“Good afternoon. Thank you to the committee for this opportunity to comment. My name is Lindsay Clarke and I am the Senior Vice President of Health Education & Advocacy at the Alliance for Aging Research.

One of the educational campaigns that I lead at the Alliance is the Our Best Shot Campaign. Over the years this campaign has produced dozens of educational resources focused on raising awareness about the importance of vaccines in older adults, how they work, which ones are recommended by this committee, how the Medicare program covers vaccines, and more. The resources have included a focus on influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and COVID and this past year we produced educational films on RSV in older adults, emphasizing to viewers that RSV is not just a pediatric disease.

While we know that older adults are especially vulnerable to serious complications from RSV, we also know that adults ages 60 to 64 living with asthma, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at high risk for RSV-related hospitalizations and deaths. Additionally, studies from the CDC and others presented at the ReSViNET conference in January demonstrate that a higher proportion of adults ages 60 to 64 who were hospitalized and/or experienced severe outcomes due to RSV were Black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaskan Native. These racial and ethnic differences are critical to consider when determining age recommendations for the new RSV vaccines. Earlier—and higher—rates of asthma, congestive heart failure, or COPD in communities of color due to structural racism leads to earlier RSV onset and higher risk of hospitalization and severe outcomes, including deaths, and must be considered as part of the age recommendations.

Once the recommendations are determined, we urge publication in the MMWR without delay. While respiratory surges are no longer limited to the traditional cold and flu season, we know that the surges of influenza, COVID, pneumonia, RSV, and other respiratory illnesses continue to flood and overwhelm our healthcare system in the Fall and Winter months. Being able to start administering these vaccines for the Fall season will undoubtedly save lives.

Lastly, we urge the Federal government to make sure that the safety of co-administering multiple vaccines like RSV and influenza, COVID, or pneumonia is clearly communicated. We know from our education and outreach that misinformation about the safety of receiving multiple vaccines at once persists, and clear communication from the FDA, CDC and other agencies is critical in the distribution of reliable and trustworthy information on vaccination, and specifically on coadministration.

We are excited about these new RSV vaccines and while general awareness and prevention will remain a priority for the Alliance, we look forward to being able to encourage older adults and all adults at high-risk to receive an RSV vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Thank you again for this opportunity.”

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