Update on RSV and New Vaccine Recommendation

September 22, 2023, 5:00 PM EDT

Updates on respiratory illness and vaccine-preventable diseases.

Key Takeaways

  • RSV season, which is typically in fall and winter, is right around the corner.
  • RSV activity has already started to increase in the Southeastern United States.
  • RSV can cause serious illness in infants, young children, and older adults. In fact, RSV is the leading reason that babies are hospitalized in the United States.
  • This year, we are in our strongest position ever with new RSV immunizations available to help protect babies, toddlers, and older adults from severe RSV. Most infants will likely only need protection from either the maternal RSV vaccine or the RSV immunization for babies, and not both.
    • Today, CDC recommended an RSV vaccine for people who are 32-36 weeks pregnant to protect their babies from severe RSV. The vaccine is recommended for seasonal use: in the continental US this generally means September through January. The seasonality of RSV season can vary, so state, local or territorial health departments may recommend different timing for administration for your area.
    • In August 2023, CDC recommended a new RSV immunization called nirsevimab to protect babies and some toddlers from severe RSV during the RSV season.
    • In July 2023, CDC recommended RSV vaccine for adults ages 60 and over, using shared clinical decision-making. This means these individuals should talk to their healthcare provider about whether RSV vaccination is appropriate for them at this time.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. However, it can be dangerous for babies, toddlers, and older adults.

Each year in the United States, RSV causes approximately:

  • 1 million visits to a healthcare provider (non-hospitalization) among children younger than 5 years.
  • 58,000–80,000 hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years.
  • 100–300 deaths in children younger than 5 years.
  • 60,000–160,000 hospitalizations among adults 65 years and older.
  • 6,000–10,000 deaths among adults 65 years and older.

This year, CDC has recommended three new immunizations to protect those most at risk of severe RSV. With these immunizations against RSV, we have an amazing opportunity to save lives and keep babies, toddlers, and older adults out of hospitals– but only if they are used.

What Is Happening with RSV Right Now

At the beginning of September, CDC notified healthcare providers that RSV activity was increasing in the southeastern United States, which is usually the first region where RSV season starts each year. Over the fall, virus activity increases north and west to the rest of the United States and peaks in winter months.

At this time, RSV activity in regions outside the southeastern United States remains low. This is typical for a normal RSV season. If we are facing a typical RSV season this year, an increase in RSV activity in these regions might be expected in the next month or two.

You can follow how much RSV and other respiratory viruses are affecting your community on CDC’s website.

Actions for the Public

As we head into the fall and winter and respiratory viruses start to spread, take steps now to protect yourself and others.

Parents and expecting parents: Talk to your doctor about the two different types of RSV immunizations to determine which option might be best for you and your baby.

Adults ages 60 or over: Talk to your doctor to see if RSV vaccine is right for you.