Last winter, we had a triple epidemic of flu, COVID, and RSV.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but it can be serious for infants and elderly adults. Sometimes it leads to hospitalization.
Johns Hopkins assistant professor in pediatrics Dr. Christy Sadreameli says there are two RSV vaccines that have been approved for people 60 and older. One of those vaccines is also approved for pregnant mothers who are between weeks 32 and 36 of gestation.
Doctors advise pregnant mothers getting it in the third trimester because that's when the mother's antibodies can pass directly through the placenta.
"Women are sharing a lot of their immune system memory with their baby when they're pregnant," Dr. Sadreameli said. "And that includes things they've been infected with earlier in their life, other vaccines they've had earlier in their life. But getting this vaccine with this timing - and remember it's a new vaccine, so no parents have had this vaccine before - allows the baby to benefit from that vaccine. And that way, when the baby's in this very vulnerable period, especially in the first few months of life, if it's during RSV season, they have protection."
If your baby was born before this vaccine became available, there's still an option for your infant.
There's a newly approved pre-made antibody that babies eight months or younger are eligible for this season. It eventually wears off, but Dr. Sadreameli says it's better than nothing.
If you're interested in getting the vaccine, ask your doctor where you can get it. You might be able to get it right there in the office, or they'll recommend a pharmacy near you.
If your baby is already born, ask their pediatrician how you can get the pre-made antibody.
Dr. Sadreameli expects both options will be covered by insurance.