WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Now that fall is here, hospitals are bracing for a triple threat of respiratory viruses. That’s a collision between the flu, COVID-19 and RSV.
RSV is a highly contagious respiratory virus. Last month the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention recommended the RSV vaccine be given during pregnancy to protect babies.
The vaccine is the first approved that can protect newborns from RSV.
Dr. Sarah Ash Combs, an emergency medicine physician at Children’s National Hospital in D.C., said most children will have one case of RSV before they are 2-years-old.
“The reason we talk about it so much and worry about it is that in younger babies some and vulnerable infants and children, it can really go deeper down and the lower parts of the airways, set up home and cause a lot of severe inflammation, plugging of the airways and can lead that baby or child to need help breathing in the hospital,” Combs said.
For many, it may just produce a cold, upper respiratory symptoms, stuffy nose, congestion or a small cough, according to Combs. But the RSV vaccine can be a “game changer for babies,” she said.
“Here at Children’s National Hospital in the District, we have already started tracking our RSV numbers and they are increasing exponentially week on week since the beginning of September,” Combs said. “It can cause them to need to stay in the hospital to need help with their breathing, maybe even needing a breathing tube to actually assist their breathing.”
Combs said she is not sure what would happen if all three vaccines, COVID-19, Flu and RSV were taken together.
“The one thing I would say is when we’re talking about this RSV vaccine, the monoclonal antibody, what we know is we want children to have it as young as possible,” Combs said. “For these infants, we are actually talking about them getting it within a week after birth.”