RSV can be serious and even life-threatening, but vaccines are available to help keep you healthy.

Every year, a common virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) travels around the world. It’s associated with the common cold, and for most people, causes only mild symptoms like a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing.

However, for babies, older adults, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, and people with weakened immunity, it can cause pneumonia, infection, and inflammation in the lower respiratory tract. RSV can be serious and even life-threatening. Adults with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are especially prone to severe symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year between 60,000 and 160,000 adults age 65 and older are hospitalized with RSV, and 6,000 to 10,000 die. Researchers have been working on a vaccine for RSV for 60 years.

Good news

The first RSV vaccines, Arexvy and Abrysvo, were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people age 60 and older. Both vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe RSV-related lower respiratory tract disease. The CDC recommends the vaccines for people age 60 and older, after talking with their health care providers.

The vaccines are widely available and appear to be effective for at least two seasons. Talk to your provider to decide the best time to get your RSV vaccine.

PEBB medical plans cover the RSV vaccine as a preventive benefit. Contact your plan for details on how to get your vaccination.

More on RSV

RSV symptoms usually last three to eight days. During this time, it can be easily spread through coughing, sneezing, and surfaces that infected people have touched. Babies and people with weakened immune systems are infectious even after their symptoms stop, for as long as four weeks.

For most people, the virus goes away on its own. Antibiotics are no use against a virus, so the CDC recommends over-the-counter fever reducers and drinking lots of fluids.

You can get an RSV vaccination at the same time as other vaccinations. Common side effects, such as fever and soreness at the injection site, may be increased when given with the flu vaccine.

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