RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has announced a shortage of a new immunization that protects children from respiratory syncytial virus.
The CDC says nirsevimab can protect children from RSV, a respiratory infection that largely impacts children under the age of 2.
RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization among U.S. infants.
The immunization is available in two dose, the larger of which is in low supply. The CDC is now recommending doctors prioritize the shot for children under six months and infants with underlying conditions that place them at the highest risk for severe RSV disease.
“For families, I would suggest talking with your pediatrician to see if nirsevimab is available for their infant. Across the Triangle, clinics are working through shortages of all doses of nirsevimab,” said Dr. Ganga Moorthy, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Duke Health.
The shot is ideally administered between October and March, when the virus is circulating. Those who cannot get the shot between those months, likely won’t be able to get the shot until next RSV season.
Moorthy says it isn’t always known whether a child will have a severe reaction to the virus.
The good news is that an RSV immunization is available to be administered during pregnancy. Most infants won’t need an additional vaccine after birth, according to the CDC.
In addition, the CDC says the rate of hospitalization is very low for infants. The CDC says two or three out of every 100 infants with RSV infection may need to be hospitalized. Most improve with supportive care and are discharged within a few days.
For parents hoping to immunize their children, Moorthy says not to panic.
“I would say don’t go call everybody because I think our pediatricians are doing their best right now to to get flu, COVID, nirsevimab shots out to eligible kids but I wish this was a different situation,” Moorthy said.
The shortage is being compared to the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines when they first entered the market. In a letter to the CDC earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned the agency about the impact to infants in lower-income and under-resourced communities who will face challenges accessing nirsevimab without the proper infrastructure in place.
“It’s a bit disappointing and I wish that we could give this to every infant who would be eligible,” said Moorthy. “I think it is very similar to the shortages that we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic and I’m hopeful that the distributor and practices will have this sorted out by next RSV season and hopefully we’ll be in a better place in the coming months as well.”
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces
- Stay home when you are sick
RSV symptoms in babies
- Runny nose
- Eating or drinking less
- Cough, which may progress to wheezing or difficulty breathing