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The Dawn of the RSV Vaccine: How Health Professionals are Leveraging New Developments to Combat Respiratory Illnesses

Given the southeastern United States’ growing concern about the rising prevalence of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), healthcare professionals in Madison County are preparing to combat this common respiratory illness using a recently approved vaccine.

Brandy Thomas, who serves as the infection prevention manager at Community Hospital Anderson, stated on Wednesday that individuals who have recently traveled to the southeastern region are at an increased risk of contracting the virus.

The United States, inclusive of Indiana, experienced an unexpected surge of RSV cases in late 2022, with hospital admissions escalating specifically among older children. This surge, however, did not overwhelm Madison County hospitals as per reports from The Herald Bulletin published in November.

Recent updates from officials at Community Hospital Anderson indicate that there has not been an increase in RSV cases, reinforced by a spokesperson from Ascension St. Vincent’s Hospital in Anderson who reported no recent RSV cases in their institution.

Dr. Christopher Belcher, an infectious disease physician at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, explains that RSV is so common that most children under the age of two have had it at least once. However, pandemic-related precautions such as extended indoor confinement protected some children from becoming infected, with older children now experiencing the infection due to relaxed measures.

Responding to the surge, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory to generate awareness and encourage vigilance. With symptoms including a decreased appetite, fever, and runny nose, lasting typically between 7 and 14 days,, maintained by the American Academy of Pediatrics, advises that children presenting symptoms such as rapid breathing and persistent breathing issues even after treatment should be taken to the emergency room.

To help combat the spread of RSV, Pfizer’s RSV vaccination, Abrysvo, was recently approved by the FDA for use in preventing RSV-induced lower respiratory tract infections in infants less than six months old.

Administered during the final stages of pregnancy (between 32 and 36 weeks), this vaccine significantly reduces the risk of respiratory illnesses but is not without side effects. Reports indicate that approximately 2% of vaccinated women experienced pre-eclampsia, a deadly form of hypertension.

There was also a higher rate of pre-term births marking 6% in those vaccinated and instances of low birth weight and skin yellowing in newborns.


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