CDPH strongly urges physicians to administer new RSV vaccine to help protect babies against severe illness after birth

November 19, 2023
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

With RSV season underway in California, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urging physicians to encourage prenatal vaccination with Pfizer's respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine as protection for newborns.

Pfizer’s RSVpreF vaccine (Abrysvo TM) was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for use during pregnancy. To maximize protection for babies after birth, CDC recommends seasonal administration of one dose of RSV vaccine for pregnant people during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy.

RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization for U.S. infants. AbrysvoTM has been shown to reduce the risk of RSV hospitalization for babies by 57% in the first six months after birth.

While the FDA and CDC also recently approved nirsevimab (Beyfortus), a long-acting monoclonal antibody injection for preventing severe RSV disease in infants and young children, supply is extremely limited at this time.

Given this limited availability, CDPH, along with CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, are strongly recommending prenatal immunization with Abrysvo TM during RSV season (September through January). Particularly in areas where nirsevimab is unavailable, maternal RSV vaccination should be encouraged.

If prenatal care providers are not able to immediately provide RSV vaccines to pregnant patients, CDPH recommends providing a strong referral to an in-network pharmacy where patients can get immunized. RSV vaccine can be co-administered at the same visit with other recommended prenatal vaccines, including Tdap, COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.

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