RSV immunization available for babies soon

Prevea will start giving these immunizations October 1
It isn't a vaccine but antibodies to help babies avoid getting the untreatable illness
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 6:01 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A new RSV immunization will soon be available. It’s a breakthrough to protect babies from this potentially deadly virus.

It’s designed to keep infants from ending up in the hospital. There isn’t any treatment for RSV if an infant becomes sick, at home or even in the hospital; all you can do is keep them comfortable.

More severe cases require support from oxygen or ventilators to help babies breathe since their airways are so small and they get clogged with the mucus RSV produces.

“There’s really not any treatment that we have for kids with RSV other then giving oxygen if needed. Two-thirds of all kids are going to get this in the first year of life. There’s a lot of kids who have a lot of suffering,” said Dr. Thomas Huffer, a pediatrician and executive medical director of HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital in Green Bay.

Prevea will start giving these immunizations October 1, Huffer said.

Doctors say this is not a vaccine but an immunization made from monoclonal antibodies, which are manmade proteins that mimic the antibodies our bodies normally make.

It’s given just once and will be available for all babies.

It’s also free of ingredients that sometimes cause hesitation by parents, such as mercury or aluminum.

“I think there are some people out there when they hear vaccines they think, ‘Oh, I don’t want this to stimulate my immune system,’ even though they are safe, but people have concerns about that. So these don’t do any of that. It just provides antibodies which kill the virus directly,” Dr. Huffer said.

The CDC recommends all infants eight months old or younger get this immunization.

Each year there are up to 80,000 hospitalizations and 300 deaths in children ages 5 and under in the U.S.