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RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Vaccine

Why get vaccinated?

RSV vaccine can prevent disease caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

RSV disease refers to an infection of the respiratory tract caused by RSV. RSV is a common virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms. However, in some patient populations, RSV disease can be more serious in infants and older adults. Those older adults at higher risk of worse outcomes from RSV disease include those with:

  • chronic heart or lung diseases
  • weakened immune systems
  • nursing home or long term care facility residents

RSV is usually spread through direct contact with the virus such as droplets from another person's cough or sneeze contacting your eyes, nose or mouth. It can also be spread by touching a surface that has a virus on it, such as a doorknob, and then touching your face before washing your hands.

Mild symptoms of RSV disease typically resolve in a week or two and include the following:

  • runny nose
  • decrease in appetite
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • fever
  • wheezing

In individuals at high risk of poor outcomes as previously described, RSV may cause shortness of breath and low oxygen levels or may also worsen chronic heart or lung disease, leading to hospital stay and even potentially death.

What is RSV vaccine?

RSV vaccine helps protect against virus that causes RSV disease.

There are two RSV vaccines (Arexvy, Abrysvo). The differences in the vaccines are based on how they are made.

Who should get RSV vaccine and when?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals 60 years of age or older consider receiving the vaccine after a discussion with their doctor or pharmacist.

CDC also recommends that pregnant women receive seasonal (September to January in most of the United States) vaccination at 32 through 36 weeks gestational age to prevent RSV infections in infants younger than 6 months of age.

Talk with your healthcare provider

Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of RSV vaccine or has any severe, life-threatening allergies

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone RSV vaccination until a future visit.

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting RSV vaccine.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

What are the risks of a vaccine reaction?

  • Redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness where the shot is given, and fever, feeling tired, fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea and muscle or joint pain can happen after RSV vaccination.

Serious neurologic reactions, including Guillan-Barre Syndrome, have been reported very rarely after RSV vaccine in clinical trials.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

What if there is a serious reaction?

An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.

Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff does not give medical advice.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.

How can I learn more?

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program. 7/24/2023.

Brand names

  • Arexvy®
  • Abrysvo®
Last Revised - 11/15/2023