ANN ARBOR, Mich. – In addition to the annual flu shot and the new COVID booster, there is now a vaccine available to protect older adults against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
A new poll suggests that many people who could benefit from the shot haven’t heard about it yet.
“In older adults, we’re not talking about a simple cold, we’re talking about potentially pneumonia, hospitalizations, and even death,” said Dr. Preeti Malani. “And there’s a vaccine that can protect against those complications.”
A study from the University of Michigan found the majority of older adults want to reduce those risks. Of those over the age of 60, nearly two-thirds were interested in getting vaccinated against RSV. However, only 52% said they had heard of the new RSV vaccine before they took the survey.
Malani said the interest in the vaccine is encouraging.
“Even among people who are not aware of this vaccine, there were substantial interest in getting vaccinated,” Malani said. “All of this underscores the need to get information to people and make sure people know how to protect themselves against severe RSV.”
A report from the American Medical Association suggests RSV causes up to 160,000 hospitalizations and up to 10,000 deaths annually for adults over the age of 60.
“We’re asking older adults not just to get their annual influenza vaccine, but to also get a COVID booster and to consider getting an RSV vaccine,” Malani said. “No one wants to be hospitalized, no one wants to get sick from pneumonia. And in the past, we didn’t have the ability to really prevent RSV. So, this is a really big breakthrough.”
According to the CDC, while those 60 and up can get the RSV vaccine on the same day as other vaccines, common side effects -- like fever and soreness -- may be increased if you do. Some studies also suggest your immune response may be stronger if you get the RSV vaccine separately.