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The most common virus you never heard of until now

September 18, 2023 at 10:00 p.m.

Every year, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) hits 2.1 million kids under the age of 5 and sends up to 160,000 adults age 65 and older to the hospital. But when RSV vaccines were approved this year, many people said they had never heard of the disease. That's because RSV often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (at home) as a cold or the flu. The symptoms, which appear over time, include runny nose, loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing.

Now, two new vaccines available for folks age 60-plus (ask your doctor if one is right for you): Abrysvo from Pfizer and Arexvy from GSK. The Pfizer vaccine is also approved for use during pregnancy to protect newborn babies against the virus. Also, the youngest kids can get Sanofi's monoclonal antibody, Beyfortus, during their first RSV season after birth.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found Abrysvo to be about 67% effective against two or more lower respiratory symptoms of RSV and around 88% effective against three symptoms. A study of Arexvy in the same journal found that it appeared to offer 82% protection against RSV-associated lower respiratory tract illness and 94% protection against severe RSV. The infant's vaccine reduces the risk of medically attended infection by 75%.

If you (or your infant) are at very high risk, these are smart moves, but we don't have long-term data yet. I would love to wait a year or two to see emerging information on side effects. Ask your doctor what's the right move for you.

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. Check out his latest, "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow," and find out more at Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Mike at [email protected].

King Features Syndicate

Print Headline: The most common virus you never heard of until now


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