RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

RSV Vaccine

What is RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)?

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a common respiratory virus that targets your lungs, especially small air pathways called bronchioles. RSV is one of the most frequent causes of childhood illness, with most children getting the virus by 2 years of age. Most healthy children and adults who get RSV will have a mild case with regular cold-like symptoms and usually resolves itself in about a week. RSV follows an annual seasonal pattern – in Canada, a wave of increased activity (an epidemic) usually occurs from fall to early spring.

Older adults and young children can be at an increased risk of severe RSV infections, which can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis, potentially requiring hospital care. RSV can also make existing heart and lung conditions worse.

How is RSV Transmitted?

RSV can be spread when:
  • Droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze comes into contact with eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Direct contact with the virus (ie. kissing the face of a child with RSV)
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces with the virus on it (ie. doorknob), and then touching your face

People at highest risk for severe disease include:
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • Persons over 65, especially those with underlying heart or lung disease
  • Premature infants
  • Babies younger than 6 months old
  • Young children with congenital (from birth) heart or chronic lung disease
  • Young children with compromised (weakened) immune systems due to a medical condition or medical treatment
  • Children with neuromuscular disorders

How to Prevent RSV?

You can take steps to prevent the spread of RSV. If you have cold-like symptoms, you should: 

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your shirt sleeve, not your hands 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils 
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices 

Is RSV Vaccine Necessary?

RSV vaccine helps protect adults 60 years and older from RSV disease. Older adults are at greater risk than young adults for serious complications from RSV because immune systems weaken with age. In addition, certain underlying medical conditions may increase the risk of getting very sick from RSV and older adults with these conditions may especially benefit from getting RSV vaccine.

The inactivated vaccine is safe and has fewer side effects, with studies reporting between 80-94% effectiveness, and has been shown to decrease RSV-related hospitalizations.

To find out if you require the RSV vaccine, consult a Rockdoc Medical Professional here.

We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the provided information, however, it is not feasible for us to update daily. Please book a virtual consultation with one of our Travel Medicine Professionals for current, personalized advice and answers to any questions you may have.

Is RSV Serious Disease?

People infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4 to 6 days after getting infected.

Symptoms of RSV usually include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once. In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties.

Some people with RSV infection, especially older adults and infants younger than 6 months of age, may need to be hospitalized if they are having difficulty breathing or are dehydrated.

RSV can cause serious complications such as pneumonia or exacerbation of congestive heart failure (CHF), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in older adults.

Available travel vaccinations and medications

We offer the following travel vaccinations and medications:

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