CDC:  All Infants under 8 months of age should get a new antibody shot to protect RSV

(CNN) — All infants under 8 months of age should get a new antibody shot to protect against severe respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, according a recommendation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A panel of independent experts that advises the agency – the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, known as ACIP – voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend the injection, which will be added to the CDC’s childhood immunization schedule now that CDC director Dr. Mandy Cohen has signed off on the recommendation.

In a second unanimous vote, ACIP also recommended that certain infants ages 8 to 19 months get a second dose of nirsevimab to help them through their second RSV season, if they have underlying health issues that put them at higher risk for hospitalization.

“I’m very excited about this. I think this is going to be incredible,” said ACIP member Dr. Helen Talbot, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt University after the vote. “I think this is life-changing and I’m very excited. I just hope we can get through the hurdles,” to get it to patients, Talbot said.

RSV hits certain racial and ethnic groups harder than others.  American Indian and Alaska Native children have hospitalization rates for RSV that are 4 to 10 times higher than the general population, so the CDC said they should be eligible to get a second shot, too.

Nirsevimab is a long-acting antibody — a protein that can recognize and handcuff RSV so it can’t infect cells — not a vaccine. It will be marketed under the trade name Beyfortus.

Committee members also voted to add the shot to the federally funded Vaccines for Children Program, which provides immunizations free-of-charge to children who might not get them otherwise.

“This new RSV immunization provides parents with a powerful tool to protect their children against the threat of RSV,” Cohen said in a statement. “RSV is the leading cause of hospitalizations for infants and older babies at higher risk and today we have taken an important step to make this life saving product available.”

The shot will be the first form of passive immunization added to the childhood immunization schedule.

In contrast to vaccines, which prompt the body to make antibodies against pathogens, passive immunizations don’t require the body to make anything. These therapies send protective antibodies into the body ready to go to work.

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Additional reading:

CDC Vaccine Information Statement

FDA Approves RSV Injection for Infants