Fort Worth, Texas,
09:15 AM

RSV vaccine: Why it would be 'huge'

Medical director of Infectious Diseases and what new RSV vaccine could mean

Researchers may have created a possibly revolutionary needle-free vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV.

The vaccine is only in the beginning stages and part of ongoing research, so it will not be available to the public any time soon. But if a vaccine does become available, it has the potential to be a lifesaver for children across the world.

NBC News reports that a team at the National Institutes of Health has genetically engineered a virus that should be safe and effective against RSV, which kills 200 U.S. children a year and hospitalizes 75,000 more. RSV can lead to several types of diseases, ranging from a cold to pneumonia.

So how big would this be? Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s says a vaccine that can prevent RSV will be a difference maker for all of us.

“In terms of preventing hospitalizations, emergency room visits and outpatient clinic visits, it would be huge for infants and toddlers,” Dr. Whitworth said. “Everyone has RSV at least once in the first two years of life. It may just be a minor cold or it could progress to involve the lungs and cause wheezing. We then acquire it regularly throughout our lives as some of our winter colds. In older children and adults, who are generally healthy, it is just a mild respiratory tract infection. But we are all impacted in some way by RSV.”

A new vaccine for RSV is the latest in a line of vaccines that have helped fight against diseases such as the flu and the whooping cough. Dr. Whitworth hopes that this latest medical breakthrough serves as a reminder of the importance of vaccines and why the medical profession seeks them out.

“Scientists all over the world dedicate their lives and careers to developing vaccines because they feel passionate about preventing disease and death,” Dr. Whitworth said.

In the meantime, Dr. Whitworth says families can help prevent the spread of RSV through good handwashing, cough hygiene (covering your mouth with your elbow), using tissues, etc.

About the source

Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D. is the medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s, which offers care for children and teens with diseases caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses. Our team provides a broad range of services including diagnosis, inpatient and outpatient consultations, immune deficiency evaluations and treatment of recurring infections.

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