The U-M survey found 52 percent of the 1,850 U.S. respondents ages 60 to 80 knew a new vaccine was an option to protect them against RSV.


That’s a concern for doctors who each year see patients stricken by the virus struggling to breathe inside their hospitals and clinics, said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, medical director of infection control and prevention at Henry Ford Health.

“If you're older, if you have bad lungs from smoking or some chronic disease, you can really wind up having trouble breathing, and even need to be on a breathing tube or a breathing machine,” Cunningham told Bridge Michigan.

RSV is a common virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. It typically causes just mild, cold-like symptoms, and has infected nearly all children by age two. 

But it can be deadly in some circumstances, especially to infants and people 60 and older, especially those with chronic heart or lung disease or weakened immune systems.

An estimated 60,000 to 160,000 adults in the U.S. 65 years and older are hospitalized each year, and as many as 10,000 die from RSV infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Arexvy by drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline for people 60 and older. 

In July, it approved Beyfortus by AstraZeneca for infants facing their first RSV season and children up to 24 months of age whose immune systems are compromised. (Beyfortus is not a vaccine but rather a monoclonal antibody —  laboratory-created proteins that mimic the body’s immune system.)

Because those products are now recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are typically covered for older Americans by Medicare, Medicaid and most private health insurance  plans.

The national U-M poll of 1,850 people aged 60 to 80 was conducted in July and parts of August, and the results are being released as the vaccine arrives in pharmacies, clinics and doctors’ offices.

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