September 25, 2023: On Friday, the independent panel of advisers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated Pfizer’s maternal vaccine, developed to protect newborns from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the primary cause of hospitalization among newborns in the United States.
Eleven advisors have endorsed the proposal that expectant mothers between 32 to 36 weeks into their pregnancy receive this vaccine from September through January to safeguard their infants against RSV, with only one advisor dissenting. CDC Director Mandy Cohen must approve this recommendation before it can be administered to mothers. Pfizer’s vaccine, Abrysvo, is already approved and available in the U.S. for adults aged 60 and older.
This recommendation aligns Pfizer’s maternal vaccine with the ongoing spread of RSV at elevated levels. Public health officials hope this vaccine and other treatments will enhance the nation’s ability to combat RSV, particularly after the previous year’s unusually powerful RSV season.
RSV typically causes mild cold-like symptoms, but it poses a greater risk to young and older adults, leading to severe infections.
Each year, RSV results in the deaths of several hundred children under the age of 5 and 6,000 to 10,000 seniors in the United States. According to the CDC, it also leads to approximately 58,000 to 80,000 hospitalizations annually among children under five years old.
If available in the U.S, Pfizer has estimated that its maternal vaccine could prevent up to 16,000 hospitalizations and over 300,000 doctor visits due to RSV.
This vaccine is unique as it’s distributed as a single dose to expectant mothers, triggering the production of antibodies passed to the fetus, offering protection against RSV from birth through the first six months of life.
The Food and Drug Administration established the dosing timeframe of 32 to 36 weeks when it approved the vaccine.