What is RSV?

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover within two weeks. However, certain groups, such as infants, young children, and older adults, are more likely to develop severe infections including bronchiolitis (an inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia.

While many people associate RSV with babies and young children, older adults can also get the virus and are at risk for developing complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 60,000-160,000 older adults in the United States are hospitalized with RSV each year and 6,000-10,000 die due to the viral infection.

Risk factors for severe RSV disease

Epidemiologic evidence indicates that persons aged 60 years and older who are at highest risk for severe RSV disease and who might be most likely to benefit from vaccination include those with chronic medical conditions such as:

  • Cardiopulmonary disease
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Neurologic or neuromuscular conditions
  • Hematologic disorders
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • and Moderate or severe immune compromise (either attributable to a medical condition or receipt of immunosuppressive medications or treatment)
as well as:
  • Persons who are frail
  • persons of advanced age
  • persons who reside in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • persons with other underlying conditions or factors that the provider determines might increase the risk for severe respiratory disease

Risks of vaccine reaction

Pain, redness, and swelling where the shot is given, fatigue (feeling tired), fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle or joint pain can happen after RSV vaccination.

Serious neurologic conditions, including Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), have been reported very rarely after RSV vaccination in clinical trials. It is unclear whether the vaccine caused these events.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any vaccine or medicine there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

A RSV vaccine is now available for anyone 60 years or older at any of our 3 convenient locations. You can call 901-685-9999 for more information.