SAN DIEGO — A major step in the fight against Respiratory Syncytial Virus or “RSV,” the FDA has now approved a vaccine.

The Arexvy vaccine is the first to protect against respiratory tract disease caused by RSV, but it is only available for adults 60 years and older.

Doctors says older adults are the most vulnerable to serious disease after contracting RSV.

But a newly FDA approved RSV vaccine could help protect them.

“This is breakthrough in medicine,” said Family Medicine Doctor Abisola Olulade, M.D. “RSV is a menace. It’s been a threat for several decades and this vaccine is several decades in the making also.” 

RSV is a highly contagious respiratory virus that impacts people of all ages, even children and often hits during the fall and winter.

“RSV was part of the viruses that were causing that ‘Tripledemic’ that we saw last fall and winter with flu and COVID,” Dr. Olulade said. “It can cause really severe lung infections.”

In older people, RSV can cause lower respiratory tract disease that can lead to life-threatening pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

“It definitely should help prevent people from dying and ending up in the hospital from this,” Dr. Olulade said.

According to the CDC, RSV leads to 6,000 to 10,000 deaths of adults 65 years and older each year.

“As we age, our immune system is not as protected and older adults do tend to have more chronic conditions and so things like COPD and heart disease and that puts them more at risk from dying from viruses, including RSV, and so it’s very important that they get protected with vaccination,” Dr. Olulade said.

The FDA is also requiring the vaccine company to do a post-marketing study to assess for serious risks and side effects.