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ACP InternistRSV Vaccines New Tool for Physicians

Unpacking the Impact and Implications of FDA-Approved RSV Vaccines for Older Adults

The recent FDA approval of two vaccines against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) marks a significant milestone in healthcare, offering older adults their first line of defense against a potentially life-threatening respiratory disease. However, the introduction of these vaccines also presents new challenges for healthcare professionals navigating an already crowded vaccine season.

HCN Medical Memo
As healthcare professionals, it is crucial to stay updated with the latest advancements in immunization practices. The introduction of the new RSV vaccines not only provides an opportunity to protect our older patients from a potentially severe respiratory disease but also underscores the importance of shared clinical decision-making in patient care.

Key Points

  • The FDA approved two vaccines to treat RSV earlier this year, Abrysvo by Pfizer and Arexvy by GlaxoSmithKline.
  • RSV can cause as many as 160,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths annually among adults ages 65 years and older.
  • The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended in June that adults ages 60 years and older may receive a single dose of an RSV vaccine.
  • The vaccines are expected to be available in early fall.
  • Shared decision making requires physicians to invest additional time.
  • The FDA approved one of the RSV vaccines for pregnant women Aug. 21, and ACIP is expected to meet soon to discuss its recommendations.
  • RSV actually causes as much serious respiratory illness in adults as does influenza in most seasons.
  • During the clinical trials, six cases of inflammatory neurologic events were identified, including Guillain-Barré syndrome.
  • The cost of the vaccines will be $280 per dose for GlaxoSmithKline’s Arexvy and $295 per dose for Pfizer’s Abrysvo, not including any discounts or other price reductions.
  • The RSV vaccines will be fully covered for Medicare patients with Part D coverage.

“We are probably underdiagnosing the amount of RSV that is truly out there. It’s incumbent upon us as primary care physicians to be recommending these life-saving vaccines to our patients, especially those who are most vulnerable and have the most risk. This is just as important as recommending the mammogram, colonoscopy, managing their diabetes, hypertension, and everything else.”
– Jason M. Goldman, MD, FACP

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