The RSV Shot for Babies Is Almost Here: What Parents Should Know

After decades of research, a shot to protect infants from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is nearly finalized. However, a semantical snafu could make the treatment inaccessible for low-income families. Here’s everything parents need to know about the forthcoming RSV shot.

As Kaiser Health News reported, the pharmaceutical industry is close to perfecting effective immunizations against RSV, which caused an alarming surge in pediatric hospitalizations throughout the United States last fall. Only one version of the shot, called nirsevimab, is designed for infants. It is intended to be administered before a baby’s first winter RSV season.

Technically, the baby-friend shot is not a standard vaccine. It is a monoclonal antibody treatment, which neutralizes RSV in the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, this small technicality could create financial barriers for families who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicaid. All routine pediatric vaccines are available for free to low-income families under the federal Vaccines for Children program, which was implemented in 1994. Since nirsevimab is an antibody treatment, not a vaccine, it would not be covered by the program unless government officials intervene.

In a statement to Kaiser Health News, Kristen Norlund, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the agency is still determining whether nirsevimab would be eligible under the Vaccines for Children program.

Nirsevimab was approved by European officials last December and is expected to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the summer. Sanofi and AstraZeneca, the two drug companies responsible for the shot, hope to see it recommended by the CDC and then offered nationwide this fall.

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