RSV in Adults

What to know

  • RSV can be dangerous for older adults, especially those who have certain medical conditions, are elderly or frail, or live in a nursing home.
  • CDC recommends everyone ages 75 and older get an RSV vaccine.
  • CDC recommends adults ages 60-74 who are at increased risk of severe RSV disease get an RSV vaccine.
Older adult patient lies in bed as doctor presses stethoscope onto chest


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:

  • Adults ages 75 and older
  • Adults with chronic heart or lung disease
  • Adults with weakened immune systems
  • Adults with certain other underlying medical conditions, like severe obesity and severe diabetes
  • Adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities

Severe RSV

When an adult gets an 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

Adults 60 and older who are at increased risk include those with certain chronic medical conditions, those who are elderly or frail, and those living in nursing homes. Older adults who get very sick from RSV may need to be hospitalized. Some may even die.


CDC's Respiratory Virus Guidance provides actions you can take to protect yourself and others from health risks caused by RSV and other respiratory viruses.


Antiviral medication is not routinely recommended to fight infection. Most RSV infections go away on their own in a week or two. However, RSV can cause severe illness in some people.

Take steps to relieve symptoms:

  • Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Drink enough fluids. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).

When to seek emergency care‎

Call your healthcare professional if you are having difficulty breathing, not drinking enough fluids, or experiencing worsening symptoms.

RSV vaccine for older adults

CDC recommends an RSV vaccine if you are ages 75 or older or if you are ages 60-74 and have a risk factor for severe RSV disease. RSV vaccine is not currently an annual vaccine, meaning older adults do not need to get a dose every RSV season. That means if you have already gotten an RSV vaccine, you do not need to get another one at this time.

Eligible adults can get an RSV vaccine at any time, but the best time to get vaccinated is in late summer and early fall. This timing ensures you're protected by the time RSV starts to spread in your community and ensures you get maximum protection during the winter months.