Discussing the Upcoming RSV Season, New Tools, and Vaccine Hesitancy


Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS, discusses the benefits of having new tools to fight RSV in infants, potential vaccine hesitancy, and RSV trends currently being observed.

This short series on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a collaboration between Contemporary Pediatrics, Contagion, and Contemporary OB/GYN. Check back every week for additional stories and interviews with clinicians and key RSV stakeholders.

Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS, editor in chief, Contemporary Pediatrics, professor of pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, pediatric infectious diseases attending, Ann & Robert H Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, highlights the importance of newly-approved tools to fight against RSV disease in infants. Tan also discusses the sense of optimism surrounding these tools and what she has noticed regarding vaccine hesitancy.

This interview is part 3 of a 3-part series highlighting RSV ahead of the traditional RSV season. Click here for part 1, click here for part 2.

Interview transcript (edited for clarity):


Can you summarize how important the new RSV tools are, in nirsevimab (Beyfortus; Sanofi and AstraZeneca) and RSVpreF (Abrysvo; Pfizer), ahead of the traditional RSV season?


The availability of RSV vaccines for pregnant women and the monoclonal antibody for infants is going to be a huge game-changer, if people use it, in our ability to control severe RSV disease and decrease the amount of hospitalizations that occur with severe RSV disease.


Can you talk about hesitancy that could be associated with RSVpreF and nirsevimab?


On the positive note, people have been very, very accepting of the monoclonal antibody, and we've had mothers ask when the antibody is going to be available, because they want to protect their children against RSV. Similarly, I've heard from some of the obgyn colleagues that they do have women that are asking when they are able to get the RSV vaccine. Many of the obgyns were waiting for the CDC to come out with recommendations which they did, basically stating that women between 32 and 36 weeks gestation, should be getting the RSV vaccine. Similarly, there was a question about if a child's mom or if an infant's mom received the vaccine, "what do you do about administering nirsevimab?" The CDC came out with the recommendation that all infants under 8 months of age going into the first RSV season should receive nirsevimab if their mom has not received the vaccine, or if mom's vaccine status is unknown, or if they were born on less than 2 weeks after mom received the vaccine. I think for this particular vaccine (RSVpreF), there's been a lot of positivity with regards to people being very interested in receiving it to protect themselves and their infants.


Are these products readily available for distribution, ahead of the RSV season?


The product is readily available. I think one of the challenges that many people are still waiting to hear about has to do with insurance coverage. Insurance is still talking about how they want to cover this, but the products themselves are readily available.


Is there a sense of optimism regarding these new tools for RSV disease?


Absolutely. I think people are really looking forward to protecting their patients with these vaccines. Looking at the information from the clinical trials that were performed, I mean, the efficacy of the monoclonal antibody and the maternal vaccine are really, really great. This basically allows us to provide protection for those individuals that are a high risk for severe complications from RSV.


What trends are currently being observed regarding COVID-19, influenza, and RSV?


We are seeing an uptick in the amount of COVID that's being seen in the community. We're seeing sporadic flu and we haven't really seen any RSV yet, but it's a little bit early since RSV season usually starts in October. Now looking at data from Australia, which is where we can get some predictions as to what the seasons are going to be like, Australia had a very severe flu and RSV season. It is predicted that this is going to be a more severe flu and RSV season. The big thing is to please vaccinate your patients against RSV, flu and COVID if they are eligible for those vaccines, and don't forget to vaccinate them with their routinely recommended vaccines in order to keep them up to date.

To learn more about women’s health, go to Contemporary OB/GYN; to learn more about pediatric health, go to Contemporary Pediatrics.

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