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Children's health

11th May 2023

First RSV vaccine approved for adults in the US

Ellen Fitzpatrick

The US has become the first country in the world to approve an RSV vaccine for older adults.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the first approval of the vaccine which aims to target the respiratory syncytial virus in adults, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

The vaccine has been greenlit for people aged 60 and older who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus.

“It’s a very big deal to have options available to prevent RSV disease,” Barney Graham, senior adviser for global-health-equity trials at Morehouse School of Medicine, tells Nature News’ Myriam Vidal Valero.

There is currently no RSV vaccine or medication in Ireland and symptoms of the illness usually present as mild in children.

Children tend to have cold-like symptoms with most children getting it before the age of two.

The HSE says: “Most symptoms of RSV are mild, such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. People usually recover within 2 to 3 weeks without treatment or the need to see a GP. It is the main cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in very young children.”

RSV is most dangerous for children under the age of four, children and adults with an underlying lung or heart condition, those with a weakened immune system, and adults aged 65 years and older.

Before the vaccine can be distributed in the US, it needs to be recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). GSK, the pharmaceutical company behind it, hopes it will be available by the end of the year.

There is no word on if a vaccine like this will be soon available in Ireland, or if one will be available for children.

RSV symptoms appear in stages and include:

If they do not subside in four to five days, these symptoms may develop:

  • increased breathing (more breaths per minute)
  • wheezing
  • difficulty feeding or decreased appetite
  • less wet nappies

RSV can last for 14 days, with the symptoms gradually improving towards the end.

Symptoms can be treated at home without the need for a GP visit, but if your child’s symptoms worsen, you should visit your local GP.


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