State advises RSV vaccine for small children, older adults

State health officials are advising inoculation of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine for infants and high-risk children up to 19 months of age, as well as adults over the age of 60 and pregnant women up to the 32nd-36th week of gestation, to prevent serious medical issues.

The Alaska Public Health Alert Network made the announcement on Monday, in the wake of an earlier announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the Southeastern U.S. is seeing an increase in RSV patients, cases have not yet surpassed baseline in Alaska for the 2023-24 season, the network announcement said.

According to state health officials, between 60,000 and 160,000 older adults in the U.S. are hospitalized and 6,000 to 10,000 older adults die annually due to RSV infection.

The RSV vaccine for pregnant women will promote development of maternal RSV-specific antibodies that can be passed on to the fetus to protect newborn babies against severe RSV from birth to six months of age, the report said.