New York State Department of Health Encourages Residents to Get RSV Vaccine as RSV Cases Increase

RSV Cases Surpass COVID and Flu Cases in Recent Weeks

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 29, 2023) - The New York State Department of Health encourages eligible New Yorkers to get the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine as cases increase. There are currently more RSV cases than COVID and flu cases across the state. It's important for older New Yorkers over 60 with medical conditions and pregnant people to get vaccinated right away, and only one shot is needed. New Yorkers can get the vaccine at pharmacies or ask their doctors about it.

Chart showing cases of RSV, Flu, and COVID-19 over the last 12 months

"The holidays are a time for festivities, gatherings, and travel and no one should miss out because of illness," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "With RSV cases increasing at a faster rate than flu and COVID, we encourage New Yorkers over 60 with medical conditions and pregnant people to get vaccinated with the new RSV vaccine. The vaccine is safe and with only one shot, boosters and updates are not necessary. We want everyone to have an enjoyable and most importantly a safe and healthy holiday season."

In November 2023, the Department announced a statewide standing order allowing pharmacists in New York State to administer the RSV vaccination to individuals 60 and older and pregnant people without a separate prescription from their physician.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild illness but which can be very harmful to children under the age of 1, adults ages 60 and older, people with medical conditions, or those born premature or with underlying lung conditions. RSV infection typically spreads during the fall and winter months.

The virus is spread through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of infected people when they cough and sneeze. RSV can also spread through dried respiratory secretions on bedclothes and similar items. Direct contact with the virus, such as kissing, can also spread the virus.

Typical symptoms resemble the common cold: runny nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, fever, wheezing, and decreased appetite. Mild or unnoticeable illness may occur. However, RSV infection can also result in pneumonia, especially in the very young, the very old, or those with weakened immune systems.

There are two RSV vaccines available for adults aged 60 years and older. The vaccines were approved for use in June 2023 and are called Arexvy (RSVPreF3 +AS01E) and Abrysvo (RSVpreF). An RSV vaccination, RSVpreF vaccine (Abrysvo), is recommended for use during pregnancy (maternal RSV vaccine). It is given during RSV season to people who are 32 through 36 weeks and 6 days pregnant.

The Department urges New Yorkers to learn about the new RSV vaccines, preventing RSV spread, managing symptoms, and how to protect loved ones at the greatest risk of getting very ill.

If interested in the vaccine, please talk to a health care provider. For best protection against the upcoming RSV season, getting the vaccine as soon as possible is recommended.

More information on RSV can be found here.

Information about RSV vaccination for older adults 60 years of age and over can be found here.