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Rollout of R.S.V. Vaccine Lags for Elderly Americans

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Groundbreaking R.S.V. Vaccine Slow to Gain Traction Among Seniors in the U.S.

A new vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (R.S.V.) has been approved by the FDA and is available to the public. However, only about 15% of Americans over 60 have received the vaccine. By contrast, the flu shot and the updated Covid-19 vaccine have had much higher uptake rates among the same population.

R.S.V. poses a significant risk to older adults, as it is a leading cause of hospitalization and deaths in this age group. This is in contrast to the common belief that R.S.V. is only a concern for infants and young children. The new R.S.V. vaccine is highly effective, with two options being 94% and 86% effective against severe illness, but awareness and uptake remain low.

There are several reasons why the R.S.V. vaccine has not caught on, including the fact that the recommendation for its use is based on “shared clinical decision-making,” which can depress vaccination rates. Additionally, many older people are now receiving multiple public health messages about seasonal vaccinations, making it harder to persuade them to get the R.S.V. vaccine.

Providers’ confusion about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine also contributes to low uptake rates among older people. While some efforts are being made to improve the vaccination rate, the vaccines’ manufacturers are pleased with the number of people getting vaccinated.

Over time, more pregnant women and babies being immunized may lead to greater protection for older adults, as the CDC recommends. However, as of now, the slow uptake of the R.S.V. vaccine is a cause for concern, especially considering the serious health risks it poses to older Americans.

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Photo credit www.nytimes.com

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