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What’s new in RSV care for adults over 60?

| Healthy You | Wellness

Pharmacy technician prepares to give vaccination to bearded man

Here’s what to know about where and when to get the RSV vaccine.

Cough? Sore throat? Stuffy nose? These and other symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) might look like a bad cold.

But RSV can be especially serious for adults with weak or aging immune systems.

What does “serious” mean in this case? The American Lung Association notes that up to 120,000 adults are hospitalized every year with RSV. 

The good news is that there have been some hopeful advances. Here’s what’s new since 2022.

Adult RSV vaccines are now available. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated if you’re older than 60.  

”Everyone above 65 years of age is at high risk of developing severe respiratory disease when contracting RSV,” says Nadeen Audisho, MD. “This is due to immunosenescence or aging immune system,” Dr. Audisho specializes in caring for people 65 and older at PeaceHealth in Bellingham, Washington.

She emphasizes that the vaccine will not prevent you from getting the virus but it will surely help you get a milder form if you get it. With an efficacy rate of 84%, medical providers are confident the vaccine can prevent severe disease. (Read how experts gauge the effectiveness of vaccines.)

When and where to get the shot

Plan to get your dose as early as possible to give you protection through the winter. Check with your local pharmacies for an appointment. Drop-in service might also be available. Below are links to a few pharmacies that may have locations close to where you live:

Insurance may cover the cost of this and other vaccines. Visit the CDC’s RSV site to learn more about your options. 

More than one shot? It’s up to you

You might wonder if you can get the RSV and flu shots at the same time. It’s your choice, Dr. Audisho notes. The CDC says it’s okay to take both shots together if that’s more convenient for you.

“I sometimes advise my patients to wait a week or 2 between different shots if they are worried about side effects,” she says. If this is a concern for you or a loved one, discuss it with your own doctor. 

Other protective steps

“I tell all my patients to try the best they can to protect themselves, especially in the winter months,” says Dr. Audisho. 

This includes familiar recommendations, such as:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear a mask, if possible -- especially if you’re in a small indoor space with lots of people.
  • Avoid in-person contact with people who are sick (coughing, sneezing, fever).

By using new and old preventive measures, you can lessen the impact of RSV this season.

portrait of Nadeen Audisho MD

Nadeen Audisho MD

Internal Medicine
Geriatric Internal Medicine
We welcomed Nadeen Audisho, MD, to the PeaceHealth Medical Group Center for Senior Health team of providers in July 2020. She comes to PeaceHealth after finishing her geriatric medicine fellowship at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. During her life, Dr. Audisho watched her grandmother battle through her fight with Alzheimer’s dementia and the impact it had on her and her caregivers’ lives. This sparked a passion that helped guide her into this specialty. She has special medical interests in all types of dementia and frailty syndrome. Dr. Audisho has a strong research base that has primarily focused on frailty syndrome, dementia, pulmonology and cardiology. She is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Geriatric Medicine. “’Aging gracefully’ is my motivator. I want to help my patients age gracefully and have a healthy journey towards their goals," she said. In 2019, Dr. Audisho went to Chocola, Guatemala on an international medical mission with the international refugee organization and describes it as “life-changing.” She has a passion for international medical missions. She is fluent in Arabic and Assyrian. Outside of the clinic, she enjoys ballroom dancing, playing the guitar, singing, painting, hiking and traveling. She is married and looks to her husband and mother as her idols, stating, “They are the symbol of love and strength in my life.”