Elderly woman receiving the RSV vaccine from a doctor.

June 2, 2023

New respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines for adults 60+ years of age are expected to be available in fall 2023.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two RSV vaccines:

The new vaccines will help protect older adults against severe or life-threatening cases of RSV. It will also help protect older adults with asthma and COPD who are at high risk for severe RSV infection.

The vaccine helps develop antibodies against the protein that enters cells and causes RSV. The Arexvy vaccine also includes an adjuvant. An adjuvant helps boost the immune system and increases the effect of the vaccine.

What is RSV?It’s a common respiratory virus, especially in children. It can cause fever, coughing, wheezing, runny nose and decreased appetite. RSV is very contagious. By the time children are 2 or 3 years old, most have had it at least once.

RSV is common in adults, too. For many patients, Symptoms are treatable. But for some,symptoms may turn severe and require hospitalization. Severe symptoms include fever, severe cough and wheeze, rapid breathing and/or difficulty breathing. Adults who are 65+ years of age and have an underlying medical condition such as asthma or COPD are at high risk for severe RSV.

研究into RSV’s impact on adults ages 65 and older has found that:

  • RSV causes approximately 60,000-120,000 hospitalizations each year
  • RSV causes 6,000-10,000 deaths each year

The RSV vaccines are the first two to get FDA approval. Many more are expected. GSK is the manufacturer for Arexvy. Pfizer makes Abrysvo and is working on an RSV vaccine for pregnant women to protect infants. Moderna’s RSV vaccine is in clinical trials. AstraZeneca and Sanofi are developing a monoclonal antibody RSV vaccine treatment for babies.

RSV vaccines are also coming soon for children and adults 18-60 who have an underlying medical condition such as asthma.

Arexvy clinical trials involved 25,000 adults 60+ years of age. The vaccine showed the following:

  • 82.6% effectiveness against lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) caused by RSV;
  • 94.1% effectiveness against severe cases of LRTD caused by RSV;
  • 94.6% effectiveness in adults with at least one underlying medical condition.

GSK states that the Arexvy vaccine “will beavailable for older adultsbefore the 2023/24 RSV season.” The RSV season starts in the fall and usually lasts until spring.

Abrysvo clinical trials involved 37,000 adults 60+ years old. The vaccine was 66.7% effective against RSV defined by two or more symptoms. It was 85.7% effective against more severe RSV illness, defined by three or more symptoms.

How long do the vaccines offer protection against RSV? The GSK study indicates that it should last an entire RSV season. It could potentially last up to a year. As Arexvy and Abrysvo become available, researchers will get a better understanding of how long protection lasts – and if an annual vaccine is needed.

Reviewed by:
Purvi Parikh, MD, FACAAI
is an adult and pediatric allergist and immunologist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill in New York City. She is on faculty as Clinical Assistant Professor in both departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.