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Moms: New RSV Protection for Infants this Respiratory Season!

RSV Denver

After last year’s record number of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections, we are entering the 2023-2024 viral season with a new tool to protect young infants from RSV — nirsevimab, an RSV immunization. Children’s Hospital Colorado neonatologist Stephanie Bourque, MD, breaks down the top things you need to know about RSV, which affects nearly all children at least once before the age of 2, and the new opportunity for protection against it. 

What is RSV? 

RSV is one of several viruses that cause respiratory illness and symptoms. It spreads from person to person and enters the body through the nose or eyes, typically from contact with infected mucus, saliva or nasal discharge from coughs or sneezes. RSV can also spread through dried respiratory secretions on clothes and can remain on hard surfaces for several hours and on skin for shorter amounts of time. While most children experience common cold symptoms with an RSV infection, some children can get very sick, especially infants. 

RSV and infants

For infants under a year of age, RSV is the most common cause of hospitalization. For those who require a hospital stay, extra breathing support with oxygen, suctioning and IV fluids may be needed. If you are in a home with an infant and older siblings, washing hands and staying away from those who are feeling sick is the best way to prevent the spread of RSV and other illness. It is also helpful to teach older siblings not to touch a baby’s face or hands and instead connect in another way, such as “feet hugs.”

The new RSV immunization

As we navigate the height of respiratory season, pediatric providers now have new tools available to them to help protect young infants from RSV. Nirsevimab (sold under the name Beyfortus) is a monoclonal antibody shown to significantly reduce RSV-associated medical visits, hospital admissions and intensive care unit admissions by up to 80%. 

Nirsevimab is an RSV immunization that works differently than a vaccine. It provides antibodies that offer protection from the RSV virus right away. This single-dose injection protects people who receive it through a typical RSV season, which is several months long.

For individuals who are pregnant, a newly available RSV vaccine (Abrysvo) can be given between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy if delivery is expected during the fall or winter RSV season.

At time of writing, availability of nirsevimab is limited, and public health experts are prioritizing this immunization for babies, who remain at the highest risk for serious illness from RSV. Check with your child’s healthcare provider for more information specific to your baby.  

And remember, always consult with your pediatrician for specific questions or concerns about your child’s health.

 Additional resources

  • If you are seeking assistance or care, please call your primary care provider or the Children’s Colorado ParentSmart Healthline  at 720-777-0123 to receive tips from registered, experienced pediatric nurses, available 24/7.
  • Caregivers can also use the free ChildrensMD mobile app to access care guides to help them make informed decisions on what level of care (if any) is needed and how to provide speedy symptom relief for minor illnesses or injuries you can manage on your own.
  • Symptoms of respiratory viruses can be similar. Read our expert guide on how to spot the subtle differences between RSV, flu, COVID-19 and other illnesses.

 In proud partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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