As winter begins, so does the increased threat of respiratory infections, and one virus that demands our attention is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This RSV vaccine is critically important for specific vulnerable groups: seniors and infants or children below the age of two.

Here’s a rundown of the most important RSV vaccine info you should know.

Understanding RSV and Its Seasonal Threats
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a respiratory virus known for causing lower respiratory tract diseases, particularly pneumonia. Its prevalence peaks during the cold winter months, spanning from November through March. This seasonal pattern intensifies the need for awareness and proactive measures.

Protecting Vulnerable Populations
The RSV vaccine serves as a crucial shield against severe symptoms and complications, especially for seniors and infants/young children.

“Taking this vaccine decreases the chance of getting RSV and seriously lessens the severity of the virus for those who get it,” explained Dr. Matthew Felber, primary care physician at Pender Community Hospital and Medical Clinics.

Notably, the most severe cases have been observed in those under two years of age, as well as in individuals over 60. This makes vaccination imperative for these demographics. Pregnant women are also encouraged to receive the vaccine to provide protection to their infants.

Eligibility and Vaccine Administration
Currently, the RSV vaccine is limited to seniors, infants/young children, and pregnant women. Pender Medical Clinic administers the vaccine to pregnant women and infants/young children, while the Apothecary Shops in Pender and Wisner offers RSV vaccination services to individuals over the age of 60.

Understanding Side Effects
“While the RSV vaccine is generally well-tolerated, individuals may experience mild side effects like fatigue, muscle pain (especially at the injection site), and headaches,” Dr. Felber shared. “However, these effects typically subside within a few days.”

Pregnant women considering whether to get the RSV vaccine to protect their infant should be aware of a slightly increased risk of preterm labor and are advised to receive the vaccine between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Taking Action
RSV is a common and potentially severe respiratory infection that affected more individuals, particularly infants and the elderly, than COVID-19 in the previous year. The RSV vaccine stands as a frontline defense, protecting vulnerable populations and contributing to the overall health and well-being of the community.

For those looking to get the RSV vaccine or to schedule a vaccine for a loved one, setting up this appointment is the first step. Whether it’s to receive the vaccine or to discuss any concerns with a healthcare provider, taking proactive measures is crucial in safeguarding against this virus.

Seniors (those age 60 or above) can call the Apothecary Shop is Pender at (402) 385- 3350 or Wisner at (402) 529-3550 to schedule a vaccine appointment, while pregnant women and those with infants can call Pender Medical Clinic at (402) 385-3033 for an appointment.