The New RSV Immunization is Experiencing a Supply Shortage
There is a nationwide shortage of Beyfortus, a new immunization that protects infants against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The shortage is due to manufacturing challenges and is expected to continue through the 2023-2024 RSV season.
Starting now, Beyfortus will be prioritized for infants at highest risk of severe RSV disease, such as infants under 6 weeks of age, premature infants, and infants with chronic health conditions.
If you are concerned about the Beyfortus shortage, talk to your pediatrician. They can help you determine if your infant is at high risk of severe RSV disease and whether they should receive the immunization.
Metro Pediatrics is offering a new immunization for our littlest patients to help protect against RSV infection. It is different from our regular immunizations because it is a monoclonal antibody that is expected to give babies rapid protection against RSV for up to 12 months.
Who is Eligible for Beyfortus?
All infants up to 8 months of age will be eligible to receive the immunization at the start of their first RSV season, which typically runs from October to March.
Beyfortus is also approved for older infants up to 24 months of age who remain vulnerable through their second RSV season. These are children who:
- Have high-risk conditions, such as chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, or cystic fibrosis
- Are severely immunocompromised
- Are American Indian and/or Alaska Native
When Should My Child Receive a Dose of Beyfortus?
- Babies born during or shortly before RSV season should receive a single dose of Beyfortus within a week of birth.
- Infants under 8 months old should receive a single dose of Beyfortus shortly before the start of RSV season.
- Babies 8 to 19 months of age who are at increased risk of severe RSV disease should receive a single dose of Beyfortus shortly before the start of their second RSV season.
What is RSV?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common and potentially serious illness that primarily affects young children, especially those under the age of 2. The common virus circulates annually and can cause symptoms ranging from a runny nose to severe respiratory distress resulting in a significant number of hospitalizations among infants. In adults, the symptoms mimic a common cold.
What is Beyfortus?
Beyfortus is a long-acting monoclonal antibody that is used to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) in newborns and infants up to 24 months of age. It was approved by the FDA in July 2023 and is now available for the 2023-2024 RSV season.
Beyfortus is given as a single injection and is effective for up to 12 months. It is recommended for newborns and infants born during or entering their first RSV season, as well as infants who remain vulnerable through their second RSV season, such as those with congenital heart disease or chronic lung disease.
Why is Metro Pediatrics Excited to Offer Beyfortus?
Beyfortus is a promising new treatment for RSV, which is a common respiratory virus that can cause serious illness in young children. It is estimated that RSV causes up to 80,000 hospitalizations and 100 to 300 deaths in children under the age of 5 each year in the United States.
Beyfortus is a safe and effective treatment for RSV. The most common side effects are mild and go away on their own. These side effects can include fever, rash, and injection site reactions.
Beyfortus is a valuable new tool for preventing RSV LRTD in high-risk infants. It is expected to make a significant impact on the number of RSV-related hospitalizations and deaths in young children.
“Monoclonal antibodies act like a shield against a virus,” said Dr. Paul Cieslak, Oregon Health Authority senior health advisor and medical director, Communicable Diseases and Immunizations program. “That’s critical because we have no vaccine against RSV for the young babies who are at highest risk. [Beyfortus] is an important development because, unlike existing monoclonal antibody medication, its protection can last through the entire RSV season.”
What Are the Side Effects of Beyfortus?
The most common side effects of Beyfortus are mild and go away on their own within a few days. These side effects may include:
- Skin rash
- Pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site
- Mild allergic reaction
Serious side effects, such as anaphylaxis, are rare but possible. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or fainting. If your child experiences any of these symptoms after receiving Beyfortus, seek medical attention immediately. Always call your doctor if any other symptoms concern you.
It’s important to note that the benefits of Beyfortus outweigh the risks for most infants. Beyfortus is a safe and effective way to protect infants from serious respiratory illness caused by RSV.
Symptoms of RSV in Children
RSV often starts with symptoms similar to the common cold, such as a runny nose and cough. However, it can progress to more severe symptoms like wheezing and difficulty breathing, which is particularly concerning in infants. Recognizing these symptoms early can make a significant difference in a child’s recovery.
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Parents should offer home care for mild symptoms. Call your pediatrician if your child has a fever of 103°F or higher, a fever that lasts more than 3 days, or signs of an ear infection. Seek immediate care if your child experiences labored breathing, shallow or rapid breaths, wheezing, dehydration, lips, tongue, or skin turning gray or blue, or significant decrease in activity and increase in lethargy.
Pediatricians stress the importance of seeking medical attention if your child is under the age of 2 and shows symptoms of RSV. Timely intervention can prevent the progression of the virus and its potential complications. Contact your primary care pediatrician immediately if you suspect RSV. Metro Pediatrics offers RSV testing to diagnose a current infection.