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CDC Endorses GSK, Pfizer RSV Vaccines for Older Adults


The 2 new vaccines are authorized for adults aged 60 years and older and with CDC Director Walensky's final nod, should be available this fall.

As of today, the new GSK and Pfizer RSV vaccines are authorized for adults 60 years and older. With CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s endorsement, the vaccines are expected to be available as soon as this fall.

CDC Endorses GSK, Pfizer RSV Vaccines for Older Adults   ©Tada Images/stock.adobe.com
©Tada Images/stock.adobe.com

Today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, recommended the use of GSK’s and Pfizer’s new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines for older adults.

Because Walensky will be stepping down at the end of June, this could be her last major approval as head of the CDC.

With this authorization, adults 60 years and older are eligible to be vaccinated against RSV as soon as the vaccines are available, like by fall 2023. Individuals should meet with their health care provider to determine whether RSV vaccination is right for them, the CDC stated.

Walensky endorsed the vaccination recommendation previously given by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The recommendation came after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved Pfizer’s Abrysvo (RSVpreF) and GSK’s Arexvy (RSVPreF3 +AS01E) as the world’s first RSV vaccines.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms. While most people recover within 2 weeks, infants and older adults are susceptible to severe and even fatal infection. Older adults with comorbidities, including diabetes and chronic heart and lung disease, are at an increased risk of RSV hospitalization and death. Adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are also susceptible to more adverse RSV disease outcomes.

The CDC estimates that RSV causes 60,000-160,000 hospitalizations and 6000-10,000 deaths each year in older adults. The need for the world’s first RSV vaccine became more dire than ever this past year, as this past season came early and intensely. The CDC reported overall hospitalizations last season peaked at 19.5 per 100,000 people. For reference, the previous high was a peak of 8.8 overall hospitalizations per 100,000 people, recorded during the 2019-2020 RSV season.

Despite the disease being first identified in the 1950s, the world had no available vaccine for RSV until this year. Infants and young children are also susceptible to severe or fatal RSV. Thus, Pfizer is also seeking approval to administer RSVpreF to pregnant persons, with the goal of preventing medically attended lower respiratory tract disease (MA-LRTD) and severe MA-LRTD caused by RSV in infants from birth to 6 months of age.

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