SAN BERNARDINO, CALIF. – A new monoclonal antibody and anti-viral vaccines are coming for the first time to protect against RSV, Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) Virus. LaSalle Medical Associates clinics will be providing these breakthroughs to patients this fall.
“RSV is a cold-like virus that is usually mild but can put some people in the hospital,” says Dr. Cheryl Emoto, Medical Director of LaSalle Medical Associates. “For the first time this fall, young infants and seniors (those with the highest risk for severe disease) now have a way to prevent it.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. Vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV. Monoclonal antibodies are available to protect infants.”
The CDC goes on to note that RSV is “one of the most common causes of childhood illness and is the most common cause of hospitalization among infants [emphasis ours].” It usually starts in the fall and peaks in the winter, but this can vary.
Monoclonal antibodies and vaccines may now prevent RSV. A monoclonal antibody is a clone of a unique white blood cell (white blood cells are the body’s own infection fighters) given to augment and reinforce the body’s natural defenses. It’s the option available for infants who are entering their first RSV season. They are not used when someone already has RSV.
Up until now, almost all children have contracted RSV by the time they reach 24 months, so the new prevention regimen has the potential to prevent illness and potential complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, making life easier for both infants and their parents or caretakers.
For older adults, the CDC estimates that between 60 to 100 thousand are hospitalized every year. resulting in 6,000 to 10,000 deaths. The most at-risk cohorts are older adults, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, those with weakened immune systems or certain underlying medical conditions, and residents in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
Complications may include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, a chronic disease of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe), and congestive heart failure—when the heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen through the body.
Additionally, this year, there is now a regimen for pregnant women that keeps the developing fetus safe from infection. Now is the time to contact your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment for preventive care, especially if you are pregnant, have an infant under 8 months of age, or are 60 years of age or older.
LaSalle Medical Associates serves more than 350,000 patients in their clinics and statewide Independent Physicians Association Group (IPA) who are covered by Medi-Cal, Medicare, and Covered California, as well as those covered by Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Brand New Day, Molina, Care 1st, Health Net and Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP).
LaSalle staff also help people who come into a clinic without any insurance to become enrolled for a variety of state and federal health coverage.