RSV in Older Adults and Adults with Chronic Medical Conditions

RSV immunizations are recommended only for these groups:

  • Adults ages 60 and older: Two RSV vaccines (Arexvy by GSK and Abrysvo by Pfizer) have been licensed by FDA and recommended by CDC for adults ages 60 and older, using shared clinical decision-making.
  • Pregnant women: One RSV vaccine (Abrysvo by Pfizer) has been licensed and recommended during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy to protect infants.
  • Infants and some young children: An RSV preventive antibody has been licensed and recommended for infants and some young children.

RSV infections can be dangerous for certain adults. Each year, it is estimated that between 60,000-160,000 older adults in the United States are hospitalized and 6,000-10,000 die due to RSV infection. Adults at highest risk for severe RSV infection include:

  • Older adults
  • Adults with chronic heart or lung disease
  • Adults with weakened immune systems
  • Adults with certain other underlying medical conditions
  • Adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
An RSV vaccine protects against serious disease

RSV vaccines can help protect adults aged 60 years and older from RSV. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if vaccination is right for you.

If you are eligible for an RSV vaccine, you can get it at the same time you get other recommended vaccines, such as flu or COVID-19 vaccines. For information about where to find vaccines in your area, visit Vaccine Information for Adults | Where to Find Adult Vaccines | CDC.

Severe RSV Infection

When an adult gets RSV infection, they typically have mild cold-like symptoms, but some may develop a lung infection or pneumonia.

RSV can sometimes also lead to worsening of serious conditions such as:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a chronic disease of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe
  • Congestive heart failure – when the heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen through the body

Older adults who get very sick from RSV may need to be hospitalized. Some may even die. Older adults are at greater risk than young adults for serious complications from RSV because our immune systems weaken when we are older.

What you should do if you or a loved one is at high risk for severe RSV disease
Elderly woman washing her hands

RSV season in most regions of the U.S. starts in the fall and peaks in winter. If you are at high risk for severe RSV infection, or if you interact with an older adult, you should take extra care to keep them healthy:

  • Wash your hands often
    Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Washing your hands will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Germs spread this way.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
    Avoid close contact, such as kissing, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who have cold-like symptoms.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash afterward.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces
    Clean surfaces and objects that people frequently touch, such as toys, doorknobs, and mobile devices. When people infected with RSV touch surfaces and objects, they can leave behind germs. Also, when they cough or sneeze, droplets containing germs can land on surfaces and objects.
  • Stay home when you are sick
    If possible, stay home from work, school, and public areas when you are sick. This will help protect others from catching your illness.
Fact sheet - Older Adults are at High Risk for Severe RSV Infection.

Older Adults Are at High Risk for Severe RSV Illness

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