Doctor/Nurse injecting syringe on arm of a Senior Patient.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared new guidance for healthcare professionals and caregivers about spotting and treating respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which has been active in the Southeastern area of the US of late. The virus also is top of mind because older adults will be able to get the first-ever RSV vaccines now available.

Generally, increases in that region predict that the RSV season has begun and that viral activity will increase north and west in the next two to three months, according to the CDC.  

Doctors and clinicians should be aware of new RSV prevention products including the two new vaccines for older adults over the age of 60, the agency said in the advisory this week. Seniors should have a single dose of either RSVPreF3 (Arexvy) or RSVpreF (Abrysvo).

Older people who are most likely to benefit should get the RSV vaccine, the CDC said. This includes people with certain chronic medical conditions associated with increased risk of severe RSV disease such as heart disease, lung disease and those who are immunocompromised. Older adults, especially those in long-term care communities, have an increased risk for RSV and may benefit if they get the vaccine, according to the CDC. 

Doctors should talk to people about other vaccines for respiratory infections, and consider testing symptomatic people who have high-risk conditions for COVID-19, influenza and RSV, the CDC said. In general, the CDC recommends that most older adults receive all three shots this year. A recent poll showed that not many older adults knew about the new RSV vaccine, but were interested in receiving it once they found out about it.

People working at long-term care communities should not go to work if they have fever or other symptoms to reduce the spread of respiratory ailments, the CDC advised.

RSV season usually starts in the fall and peaks in the winter, but that changed in the pandemic. Last year, RSV activity picked up in the summer and peaked in October and November in the US, then declined in the winter, the CDC noted.