New protective tools for the RSV season

From vaccines to monoclonal antibodies, new options will be coming to combat RSV-related illnesses.

Media Contact: Leila Gray - 206.475.9809,

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Helen Chu anticipates the upcoming viral season will include a jump in illnesses caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu, and COVID-19. 

“We expect that we'll see all three viruses circulating,” said Chu, professor of medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “It's unclear which one is going to peak first, but we expect all three of them to peak.”  

Data from the ,U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an estimated 58,000 to 80,0000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to an RSV infection every year, many of them as infants. Chu says a newly approved monoclonal antibody, a shot of infection-fighting molecules, will protect the youngest of this group.   

“[The monoclonal antibody] Is recommended for every single baby at birth, and for high-risk babies in their second year of life,” said Chu. 

Chu says a vaccine designed to be given during pregnancy to prevent RSV in infants is also awaiting CDC consideration and could also be available by the fall. 

Adults over the age of 60 are eligible for two RSV vaccines that were approved this summer, but Chu says a conversation with a primary-care doctor should be the starting point for anyone in that age group. Risk factors for severe disease are higher age, as well as chronic heart or lung conditions.  

“There is a recommendation for something called shared clinical decision-making for a vaccine,” said Chu. “That means that people can go to their doctor. They can talk to them about the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine. But the recommendation is for the RSV vaccine in that age group.” 

Download broadcast-ready soundbites on the fall viral season, and new forms of RSV protection. 

Related: CDC’s RSV resource page  

UW Medicine