KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but the virus can present more severe in infants and result in a hospital stay. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration rolled out approval for the first vaccine that expectant moms can get before the baby is born.

“Newborn infants specifically are at higher risk for getting RSV and other infections because they have not much of an immune system right after birth and so the fact that we can offer this vaccination and give babies protection while they’re still growing inside in utero is pretty awesome,” said Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center OB-GYN, Dr. Shelly Lewis.

On August 21, 2023, the FDA approved a new Pfizer Inc. vaccine meant to prevent infections in infants. It’s called ABRYSVO and it’s given to pregnant women before the baby’s arrival. The FDA says it’s the first vaccine approved for use in pregnant individuals to prevent lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) and severe LRTD caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants from birth through 6 months of age.

Lewis said the approval is a win for families.

“So, I think first and foremost it’s important to realize that vaccinating moms for baby’s benefit is not new. We’ve been recommending the TDAP or the whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women in the third trimester and that was begun in 2012 for a similar reason. There’s great safety data to support that mom makes those antibodies, passes them through the placenta, and really gives robust protection to an infant that has essentially has no immune system. So, I think knowing that it’s not a new concept is helpful for new mothers and just knowing that this disease can be very significant for young babies. Anything that we can do to prevent hospitalization and severe disease is going to be worthwhile,” said Lewis.

It will be a single-dose injection. The FDA said the most commonly reported side effects by pregnant individuals who received ABRYSVO was pain at the injection site, headache, muscle pain and nausea.

If you are an expectant mother, Lewis said that there are plenty of reasons to get vaccinated in your third trimester.

“Women should talk to their OB-GYN about this and the recommendation is going to be between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy because it does take about two weeks for mom to make those antibodies and maybe have the full protection of getting the vaccine,” said Lewis.

According to the FDA, RSV is a highly contagious virus that causes respiratory infections in individuals of all age groups. It is the most frequent cause of lower respiratory tract illness in infants worldwide.

ABRYSVO has already been approved for use in preventing RSV in adults 60 and older.