As a pediatrician and a mom, I am very happy to share that parents and doctors have new tools to protect our kids from RSV.
RSV is a virus, a tiny germ that causes cough and fever. Almost every child catches RSV at some point. But for little babies, RSV can cause them to become very sick.
In fact, it is the #1 reason babies are hospitalized in this country. RSV can also change a kid’s health for her whole life, because catching RSV in infancy puts kids at higher risk for asthma.
That’s why I’m so excited we finally have new tools to protect babies. First, people who are pregnant can get an RSV vaccine. When they do, their body makes antibodies [special proteins that fight infection] and passes those antibodies to the baby in the womb.
If you have a new baby at home, your baby can get the antibodies through a shot. Babies under 8 months can get the shot either in the hospital after birth or at their doctor’s office. Because this is the first year the shot is available, it’s on short supply. So ask your doctor if your baby might be able to get it.
The shot works well. It lowers the risk of being hospitalized for RSV by 80%. It also lowers the risk of the baby needing to go to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) with RSV by 90%. Side effects [unintended results of a drug] are rare. We haven’t seen any bad side effects yet, but about 1% of babies get a rash or swelling on their leg where they got the shot.
As a hospital pediatrician, I’m passionate about providing excellent care to hospitalized kids. But I hate seeing babies struggle to breathe, especially when I know we can prevent it. Getting the RSV vaccine or antibody shot is a great way to protect babies and keep our whole San Antonio community healthy.
-Dr. Rachel Pearson, mom of Sam (3) and Ollie (6 months)