RSV Vaccination for Older Adults 60 Years of Age and Over
What types of RSV vaccines are there?
There are two RSV vaccines licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in adults 60 and older in the United States:
- RSVPreF3 (Arexvy)
- RSVpreF (Abrysvo)
Both vaccines contain a part of the RSV virus. Both vaccines work by causing an immune response that can protect you from respiratory disease if you are infected with RSV in the future.
Who should talk to their healthcare provider about RSV vaccination?
Adults 60 years and older should talk with their health care provider about whether RSV vaccination is right for them. There is no maximum age for getting RSV vaccination. RSV vaccine is given as a single dose.
If you’re 60 or older, your health care provider might recommend RSV vaccination for you, especially if you have a weakened immune system from illness (e.g., leukemia or HIV infection) or from medications (e.g., treatment for cancer or organ transplant), if you have chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, or if you live in a nursing home. If any of those apply to you, you might be at higher risk of severe RSV disease and an RSV vaccine could help prevent serious illness.
Even if you had RSV infection in the past, RSV vaccination can help prevent future respiratory disease from RSV. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having RSV infection before you can receive an RSV vaccine, but generally, if you have a moderate or severe illness, you should wait until you recover before receiving an RSV vaccine. If you have a minor illness, such as a cold, you can get an RSV vaccine.
Who should not get RSV vaccination?
You should not get the RSV vaccine Arexvy if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of Arexvy. Information about Arexvy can be found in the manufacturer’s package insert.
You should not get the RSV vaccine Abrysvo if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of Abrysvo. Information about Abrysvo can be found in the manufacturer’s package insert.
How well do these vaccines work?
One dose of RSV vaccine provides protection against RSV disease in adults ages 60 years and older for at least two winter seasons, when RSV normally circulates.
- In adults ages 60 years and older with healthy immune systems, one dose of the RSV vaccine Arexvy was 83% effective in preventing lung infections (like pneumonia) due to RSV during the first RSV season after vaccination. During the second RSV season after vaccination, one dose of Arexvy was still 56% effective against lung infections.
- In adults ages 60 years and older with healthy immune systems, one dose of the RSV vaccine Abrysvo was 89% effective in preventing lung infections (like pneumonia) due to RSV during the first RSV season after vaccination. Based on early results from the second RSV season in a large study of how well the vaccine works, Abrysvo continues to provide protection, but the second season is ongoing and final results have not yet been released.
What are the possible side effects?
Side effects such as pain, redness, and swelling where the shot is given, fatigue, fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle or joint pain are possible after RSV vaccination. These side effects are usually mild. Patients who have experienced these symptoms when getting other vaccines might be more likely to experience them after RSV vaccination.
A small number of participants in clinical trials developed serious neurologic conditions, including Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), after RSV vaccination. GBS is a rare condition in which your immune system attacks your nerves, causing symptoms such as weakness. However, given the small number, it is unclear whether the vaccine caused these events, or whether they occurred due to chance.
If you experience side effects from RSV vaccination, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS website, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from RSV vaccination, talk with your health care provider.
When should I get an RSV vaccine?
For the 2023-24 RSV season, if you are 60 years or older and your health care provider recommends RSV vaccination for you, you should get an RSV vaccine as soon as it is available in your community, before the number of cases of RSV start to increase, which is usually in the fall and winter. Early vaccination will ensure you are protected by the time RSV begins to circulate in your community. During the 2021-22 and 2022-23 RSV seasons, the number of cases began increasing as early as July in parts of the United States, so it may be difficult to predict when it will start in 2023.
Do I need a prescription for an RSV vaccine?
See CDC’s Where to find vaccines for information on prescriptions for vaccines.
How do I pay for RSV vaccination?
See CDC’s How to Pay for Vaccines
Melgar M, Britton A, Roper LE, et al. Use of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines in Older Adults: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2023. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2023;72:793–801. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7229a4