The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday gave the green light to two new RSV vaccines for older adults and expects them to be available in the fall.
The endorsement from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky follows recommendations from the agency’s independent vaccine advisory committee and approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration.
The vaccine from GSK was the world’s first RSV vaccine for older adults, and the vaccine from Pfizer was the second to be approved by the federal agencies.
RSV, which is short for respiratory syncytial virus, is a highly contagious virus that causes flu-like illness in people of all ages. Although RSV is often associated with babies and young children, it can also be dangerous for seniors. In the US, as many as 160,000 older adults are hospitalized each year with RSV, and thousands die as a result of their infection.
The RSV hospitalization rate among seniors in the most recent season was higher than it’s been for at least six years, according to data from the CDC. There were also high levels of flu, and Covid-19 is still in circulation.
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“These vaccines provide an opportunity to help protect older adults against severe RSV illness at a time when multiple respiratory infections are likely to circulate,” the CDC said in a statement.
Single doses of the vaccines will be available to adults 60 and older using “shared clinical decision-making,” based on conversations between people and their health care providers about what is appropriate for them.
Those at highest risk for severe illness include people with chronic heart or lung disease, those with weakened immune systems and those living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, according to the CDC.
More RSV vaccines may be on the way, too. Moderna is finishing its Phase 3 trial of an mRNA vaccine for RSV in older adults and expects to submit results to the FDA within the next few months. Bavarian Nordic also said it will report results from a Phase 3 trial of its RSV vaccine for older adults this year.
The FDA is reviewing Pfizer’s maternal RSV vaccine to protect infants and is expected to make a decision by the end of August.