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CDC, FDA expedite availability of additional doses of RSV vaccine for infants

Parents struggle to find newly-approved RSV vaccine for babies. Pediatrician explains why.
Parents struggle to find newly-approved RSV vaccine for babies. Pediatrician explains why. 03:27

BALTIMORE - Viruses seem to be everywhere this time of year.

That's why some parents are looking to protect their babies from the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, which can lead to serious illness.

The CDC announced on Thursday the release of more than 77,000 additional doses of Beyfortus, a vaccine designed to protect infants from RSV. 

CDC and FDA will continue to be in close contact with manufacturers to ensure the availability of additional doses through end of this year and for early 2024 to meet the demand.  

"CDC and FDA are committed to expanding access to this important immunization so that more parents have peace of mind during the winter virus season," said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, CDC's principal deputy director.  

Parents, however, have recently run into problems trying to get the newly approved RSV vaccine for children.

"It all started originally when we took my daughter to her routine four-month pediatrician visit and they said the RSV vaccine has been approved by the FDA, it's coming, you should get it," parent Kelly Bocskor said. "We said OK, we'll probably have it in a couple of weeks, so we waited a couple of weeks, we called, and they said we don't have it."

From her living room in Severn, the mother of two cuddles her baby girl Emily as she shares what the past few months have been like.

"RSV is just a really bad virus for babies, especially young babies," Bocskor said. "They are recommending it for babies under eight months, and my daughter, she just turned 5 months a couple of days ago."

Cases on the rise: how to protect infants from RSV 02:04

Bocskor spent Emily's infancy fighting to gain access to the RSV shot to protect her ahead of what could be a dangerous respiratory virus season.

"We can't find the vaccine anywhere," she said.

And that is where the problem lies.

"Nobody I have talked to has gotten access to this vaccine," Bocskor said. "At this point, it's like a figment of the imagination. Nobody has had access to it."

This comes just months after the vaccine was approved in July by the CDC.

Pediatrician Dr. Monique Soileau-Burke says it became clear the demand was greater than the supply.

"Parents are not the only ones that are frustrated," Soileau-Burke said. "Pediatricians are frustrated as well. We have been waiting for this magic wand for so many years."

RSV gets its scary reputation from the more serious infections that come with a fever, cough, runny nose and trouble breathing, and in some cases, it leads to hospitalization.

"It is a very expensive vaccine. They were able to order some, but I think in order to minimize losses, the drug companies are not making as much as probably intended to, and then kind of waiting for insurances to see what they would do with reimbursement," Soileau-Burke said. "It really put us at a crossroads that has led to where we are now where we just don't have enough supply."

Soileau-Burke is dedicating her time to improve the barriers and manage expectations parents are facing.

"We know that RSV is very serious," Soileau-Burke said. "There are children that can go into full respiratory failure and even die from RSV."

While it may be hard to find, Soileau-Burke says all isn't lost.

"We do have another alternative especially for protecting young children," Soileau-Burke said. "Moms can get the vaccine when they are pregnant, so there is a different RSV vaccine for moms that are between 32 to 36 weeks are eligible for and that can be very protective for your baby during that first RSV season."

That's an option Soileau-Burke says will transfer protection to the baby.

"I have been a pediatrician for over twenty years now," Soileau-Burke said. "I do find that it's frequent that children's issues only get brought up when there is a problem."

At this time, the vaccine cannot be reordered through the vaccine's maker, Pfizer, because there is such a limited supply. 

While there is a shortage of the vaccine for babies, it is still available for pregnant mothers. 

The RSV shot for elderly people is also widely available.

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