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RSV vaccine protects not only mothers, but newborn babies, doctors say

RSV vaccine protects not only mothers, but newborn babies, doctors say
RSV vaccine protects not only mothers, but newborn babies, doctors say 02:12

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. -- What's the best holiday gift a pregnant mom can get her unborn baby? Doctors on Long Island say it's the RSV vaccine because the immunity is passed from mother to child.

A pregnant Forest Hills mom-to be was getting the shot Tuesday, but it really was her baby's first vaccine. After having infertility issues, Arianna Kaufman was taking no chances with her baby's health. Her nephew was hospitalized with RSV.

"It was just heartbreaking seeing such a young child with tubes up their nose and needing assistance breathing," Kaufman said. "It really deeply impacted my decision to receive the vaccine."

READ MOREWith flu cases on the rise and combined with surge in COVID and RSV, doctors say no time better than now to get vaccinated

The RSV vaccine, which is FDA approved and recommended for expectant moms at 32-36 weeks, offers babies protection from the respiratory virus during the critical first six months of life.

"It causes 500 deaths in neonates per year. It causes over 50,000 hospitalizations in babies a year, and it's very difficult and serious when a newborn comes home and immediately develops respiratory distress," said Dr. Bruce Farber, an infectious disease expert at Northwell Health.

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Lauren Charles of Old Bethpage said she is also getting the vaccine, after her first born was in the emergency room due to a frightening bout with RSV.

"Shortness of breath, wheezing, her heart rate was elevated," Charles said.

Charles is also an immuno-compromised kidney transplant recipient.

"There was some hesitancy because it is new, but after discussion, not only will it help my baby, it will also keep me safe," Charles said.

There are two strains of RSV. Both are covered by the vaccine.

READ MOREDoctors cautioning parents, children of potential flu-COVID-RSV combo during holiday season

Northwell Health doctors say you can get still get RSV over and over again, but the protection will last the baby's all-important first winter.

"For the baby, for at least six months. For the mother, the whole RSV season. So, it's one shot per year," Farber said.

"This is something to protect your baby once your baby is born. There are very few side effects. There's no downside, no safety alerts or issues in pregnancy, and only provides benefits," said Dr. Sarah Pachtman, a Northwell Health obstetrician.

The other option -- the new monoclonal antibody treatment -- is in short in supply, So, doctors say, this season, the RSV vaccine for pregnant mothers is best way to protect newborns.

Northwell Health doctors said, locally, we appear to have reached the peak in RSV positivity, which will likely now be on a slow decline.

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