What to know about the new RSV vaccine in pregnancy

A pregnant person receives an RSV shot from a nurse in blue scrubs.

With the turn to fall comes an increase in respiratory illnesses. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) is a common virus that affects the nose, throat and lungs. It usually starts to spread in autumn and peaks in the winter months.  

Most people have mild symptoms, but RSV can be severe for infants and older adults. It is the most common cause of hospitalizations for babies under 1 year old. 

If you are pregnant and your baby is due during the RSV season, there are new immunizations that protect your baby from severe illness due to RSV.  

An RSV vaccine in pregnancy

Abrysvo is an RSV vaccine given between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. You need to receive it at least 2 weeks before delivery for it to be effective. When you get the vaccine, your body produces antibodies that you will pass on to your baby through the placenta. These antibodies will protect your baby from severe illness due to RSV for 6 months.  

Similar to other vaccines, common side effects can include: 

  • Arm pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain 

We recommend anyone expecting a baby during RSV season receive the vaccine. It is safe to get your COVID, flu and RSV shot at the same time. Because there is a limited window for Abrysvo, talk to your pregnancy provider about when it is best to schedule your shot. 

Insurance coverage for Abrysvo varies. Check in with your insurance company about cost.  

An immunization for infants

Beyfortus is a new RSV immunization for babies. Given as a shot, it provides antibodies directly to the infant. These antibodies protect babies from severe RSV for 5 months. However, there is a limited supply of Beyfortus this year, and it may be difficult to get at your child’s clinic. 

It’s important to have a plan. In most cases, you will need to choose between the two immunization options. Talk to your pregnancy provider about what would work best for you.