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CDC warns of RSV immunization shortage

This summer, the FDA approved a monoclonal antibody that can immunize babies against lower respiratory tract diseases caused by RSV.

Now, the CDC warns supplies of Nirsevimab (brand name Beyfortus) will fall short of demand as transmission of respiratory syncytial virus rises in the coming months.

RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization among U.S. infants, the highest incidence of which occurs among children 3 months old and younger.

Current reports to the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System show RSV transmission has ramped up to seasonal epidemic levels in the southern U.S. and is on track to rise nationwide over the next 1–2 months.

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Arizona has 145 lab-confirmed cases so far this season and saw a 20% jump between the first and second weeks of October.

To manage the shortage, the CDC says to save 100 mg doses of Nirsevimab for infants at highest risk for developing severe RSV disease.

That includes babies younger than 6 months, those aged 6-8 months with certain underlying conditions that put them at higher risk, and those who are American Indian and Alaska Native.

Recommendations for 50 mg doses remain unchanged for now. However, the CDC’s health alert voiced concerns that syringes of that dosage might also face shortages. It said doctors should avoid using two 50 mg doses for infants weighing 5 or more kilograms (11 or more pounds) to preserve the supply for smaller babies.

For eligible infants in the 8–19 month range, doctors should use Palivizumab (brand name Synagis), another monoclonal antibody designed to prevent respiratory tract infections from RSV.

The CDC says expectant mothers should discuss options with their doctors and consider getting the maternal RSV vaccine Abrysvo.

As always, everyday preventive measures like handwashing and covering coughs are recommended.

Parents should consult with their physicians and review the relevant guidelines and warnings for each treatment.

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Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.