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.
”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.