Jan 16, 2024 - Health

"Good news for health care": RSV shots are driving seniors back to checkups

Animated illustration of a health plus made up from two bandaids, rotating between a plus shape and an "x" shape.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One side effect of the new RSV shots for older Americans: More are winding up getting other preventative tests and services during their vaccine appointments.

Driving the news: That tidbit came from UnitedHealth Group's year-end earnings report that showed use of medical services were up, prompting health insurer stocks to dip on Friday.

Why it matters: The insurer's report suggests that the RSV shots, which were approved for adults 60 and older as well as infants, are helping to drive at least some demand for care.

  • Heightened COVID activity and an ongoing shift in seniors' elevated use of services, such as outpatient care and orthopedic surgeries, also increased costs, CEO Andrew Witty told investors.

What they're saying: "To be clear, all of that is good news for health care, right?" Witty said about the care tied to RSV shots.

  • "These are seniors, many of whom have not been to the office for a long time, they've come back in, they've now got vaccinated, their physicians have picked up other things while they've been there."

By the numbers: The uptake of RSV vaccines for older Americans is still low, with roughly 20% of adults 60 and older having received one so far.

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