U.S. health officials said Thursday that Americans over the age of 60 can get the new respiratory syncytial virus vaccine, but should talk to their doctor first.
The newly-approved vaccine is expected to be ready in the fall, at which time flu and Covid-19 vaccines will also be available. People eligible for the RSV vaccine should consult their doctor to see if it’s right for them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
The CDC said adults with chronic heart and lung disease, weakened immune systems, and those living in long-term care facilities are at increased risk of respiratory infections.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of cold-like symptoms, but can be dangerous for infants and the elderly. Last year’s surge caused hospitals to fill up with children with wheezing. There are no vaccines for children yet, but pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, there may be vaccines for pregnant women to prevent illness in infants.
On Thursday, outgoing CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wallenski agreed with recommendations made last week by an advisory panel of outside experts regarding a single dose of vaccines from Pfizer and GSK. The FDA approved the vaccine last month for adults over the age of 60.
A CDC panel originally considered making stronger recommendations for everyone over the age of 65 to be vaccinated. However, some members questioned how effective it would be in the most debilitated patients, whether it would require boosters, whether it would work, and the cost, which weakened support.
Pharmaceutical company GSK told the committee that its RSV vaccine would cost between $200 and $295. Pfizer did not disclose the price. Vaccines may persist for multiple seasons, but it is not yet clear whether boosters are recommended.
Others called for stronger support for those over 65. Robert Brancato, executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, said in a statement after the committee’s vote that more people would get vaccinated.
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