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Pfizer says its RSV vaccine could be approved by summer

Pfizer and the FDA made that announcement this week. Newswatch 16's Elizabeth Worthington has more.

DANVILLE, Pa. — We could have a vaccine to protect babies against RSV by August, just in time for fall, when we tend to see outbreaks of the disease.

The vaccine would be for pregnant moms to protect their babies. Scientists have been working to develop a vaccine like this for decades, but the big influx in RSV cases this past fall hurried researchers along.

We talked to Dr. Diane Timms, the chief of maternal-fetal medicine at Geisinger. She says getting a pregnant mother vaccinated against RSV would be a breakthrough.

"RSV has been a particularly difficult challenge for little ones because the time that babies are most susceptible to the virus and can get the most ill is during the first six months of life. And that's the time when the most immune system isn't really mature enough to be able to respond appropriately to a vaccine," Dr. Timms said.

Vaccinating pregnant mothers to pass protection on to their newborns is not a new strategy. Doctors do it already for diseases like flu, whooping cough, and now, COVID.

That brought up the question: Since RSV is not a new disease, and since researchers have been developing a vaccine for it for years, does Dr. Timms believe fewer moms will be afraid to take it compared to the COVID vaccine?

"Some of the concern related to the COVID vaccine was the mRNA technology. I do not believe this vaccine uses mRNA technology; I think this is more of a conventional vaccine. So that in and of itself may help. I also hope that just as people spent a lot of time learning and understanding about COVID, that people do the same with RSV because it's not a household name like COVID and flu are."

So you might be wondering, what if I want to get my 2 year old vaccinated against RSV? The trials for this vaccine pertained specifically to pregnant moms only. But pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Moderna, are still working on direct vaccinations for kids and the elderly.

More information on RSV is available from the CDC.

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