SAN DIEGO — Health officials are reporting a supply shortage for the RSV vaccines for infants. They are now encouraging mothers to get the shot, so their child is born with antibodies.
This comes ahead of the busy holiday season. According to the CDC, this is the first fall and winter virus season where we have vaccines for three major respiratory viruses: RSV, COVID-19, and the Flu.
“We are seeing viruses in a way that we haven’t before and viruses tend to mutate, and it’s just more common. It’s just really unfortunate,” shared Dr. Cynthia Gyamfi, chair of the OB-GYN and Reproductive Sciences Department of UC San Diego.
A new drug for infants to fight against RSV is in short supply, this comes as the national mortality rate for newborns rose 3% past year. That’s the largest jump in two decades, according to the CDC.
“The newer therapies are either to get vaccinated through pregnancy or this newer monoclonal antibody that can help protect the infant,” shared Dr. Gyamfi.
The problem though, according to health professionals, those antibodies are hard to come by.
“We can’t treat infants the same way that we can treat moms,” Dr. Gyamfi explained.
In response, the CDC is pushing pregnant women to get the RSV vaccine. Dr. Gyamfi says this helps alleviate the need for infants to get the shot and could save lives.
“For neonates, RSV is now one of the leading causes of respiratory disease in infants under the age of 6 months. The problem is that without protection, they will get very sick,” she continued.
Right now, the CDC says the respiratory virus is the leading cause of hospitalizations for infants. Health experts with the CDC also say the new vaccine for moms reduces the risk for babies by 50% in the first six months after birth.
“We are ramping up to start to administer the RSV vaccine to our pregnant patients,” said Dr. Gyamfi.
This comes as other viruses tend to peak during the holidays, a time where most health experts push all patients to watch out for the Flu, several respiratory illnesses, along with the new COVID-19 variant.
“As we have stopped masking, people are now spreading disease in a different way. And we had a bit of a break during the pandemic, but now we just see an uptick in these viruses,” Dr. Gyamfi said.