Sep 22, 2023 - Health

CDC recommends maternal RSV vaccine

Illustration of a bandaid made out of lego blocks.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Centers for Disease Control on Friday recommended for the first time that expectant mothers immunize their infants against respiratory syncytial virus with a Pfizer vaccine late in their pregnancies.

Why it matters: The shot provides another option against the virus, which is the second leading cause of death worldwide during the first year of a child's life.

Between the lines: Drugmakers and regulators have expanded the arsenal against RSV ahead of the customary fall spike in respiratory illnesses to prevent a repeat last year's "tripledemic" that squeezed health systems across the country.

  • This summer, RSV vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer were recommended by the CDC for use in adults ages 60 and older.
  • In August, the CDC also recommended the monoclonal antibody shot against RSV called nirsevimab, made by AstraZeneca and Sanofi, for all infants less than 8 months old.
  • The Pfizer maternal vaccine, called Abrysvo, "is another new tool we can use this fall and winter to help protect lives," said CDC Director Mandy Cohen.

Yes, but: While the FDA approved Pfizer's maternal vaccine, it previously flagged concerns about signs of a slightly higher prevalence of preterm birth and hypertensive disorders in pregnant patients who got the shot, ABC News reported.

  • The FDA is requiring Pfizer to conduct post-marketing studies and the company told CNBC it is developing a registry for patients and their doctors to report adverse events.

Earlier Friday, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 11-1 to recommend the Pfizer shot be given 32 to 36 weeks into a pregnancy and it be made part of the Vaccines for Children Program.

  • Panel members said patients may have difficulty figuring out which doctor to consult about whether the maternal vaccine is more appropriate than the antibody. Keeping track of which option patients chose will also be complex, they warned.
  • That could be further complicated by discussions between pregnant patients and their doctors about vaccinations for COVID-19, influenza and Tdap, the experts said.
  • "I struggled with this recommendation today for the reason that I don't know what the counseling looks like for the mother who asks her OB if she should get this vaccine, and the mother who would ask the child's pediatrician what she should do," said Veronica McNally, president and CEO of the Franny Strong Association, who called on medical associations to prepare a statement about the issue.
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