Health and Science

Pfizer, GSK RSV shots for older adults may prevent thousands of hospitalizations, CDC analysis says

Key Points
  • Vaccinating a million adults ages 65 and above with a single RSV shot from Pfizer or GSK may prevent thousands of hospitalizations over two seasons of the virus, according to a CDC analysis. 
  • The analysis suggests the shots can help reduce the burden of RSV on hospitals in the fall, when the virus, Covid and the flu usually begin to spread at high levels. 
  • A CDC advisory committee recommended that adults ages 60 and older may receive one dose of Pfizer's or GSK's respiratory syncytial virus shot after consulting their doctor. 

In this article

Respiratory syncytial virus vial.
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Vaccinating one million adults ages 65 and above with a single RSV shot from Pfizer or GSK may prevent thousands of hospitalizations over two seasons of the virus, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis

A CDC medical officer presented the analysis, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, at an advisory committee meeting on Wednesday. The committee recommended that adults ages 60 and older may receive one dose of Pfizer's or GSK's respiratory syncytial virus shot after consulting their doctor. 

The analysis found that vaccinating one million adults 65 and older with a single dose of Pfizer's shot may prevent 2,500 hospitalizations and 25,000 outpatient visits over two seasons of the virus.

RSV season typically lasts from October to March in the Northern Hemisphere.  

The analysis also found that vaccinating one million adults in the same age group with one dose of GSK's shot may prevent roughly 2,300 hospitalizations and 23,000 outpatient visits. 

The estimated number of prevented outcomes is lower for adults ages 60 to 64, according to the CDC medical officer, Dr. Michael Melgar. He said that's because there's "less existing RSV disease" in that group for the vaccine to prevent. 

The analysis further supports the efficacy of each newly approved shot in preventing RSV, a common respiratory virus that causes cold-like symptoms in most people but more severe infections in seniors and children. 

Each year, RSV hospitalizes 60,000 to 160,000 older adults and kills 6,000 to 10,000, according to CDC data

Pfizer and GSK on Wednesday both presented longer-term efficacy data at the meeting, which suggested that their shots generally maintain some protection against RSV after one season of the virus. 

The analysis also suggests that the shots could reduce the burden of RSV on hospitals in the fall, when multiple respiratory viruses usually begin to spread at high levels. 

Last year, cases of RSV – along with Covid and the flu – in children and older adults overwhelmed hospitals across the nation.