Study: Communicating FDA Approval Process Increases Likelihood of Recommendations for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines


Approximately 57% of individuals who were shown a flowchart of the FDA vaccine approval process were very or somewhat likely to recommend a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine to a pregnant family member or friend compared to only 40% of those who were not shown the process.

Individuals are more likely to recommend a vaccine to a friend or family member who is pregnant to protect the infant from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) if they are informed about the rigorous process the vaccine undergoes to receive FDA approval, according to a new study published by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.1

Respiratory Syncytial Virus with lung ct scan aside on light blue background. RSV disease concept. | Image Credit: KatMoy -

KatMoy -

Approximately 57% of those who were shown a flowchart of the FDA vaccine approval process were very or somewhat likely to recommend an RSV vaccine to a pregnant family member or friend compared to only 40% of those who were not shown the process, according to the results of the survey.1 Additionally, investigators found that those who were informed about the risks of RSV were also 58% more likely to recommend the vaccine.1

“Over the years the FDA and CDC have developed a sophisticated review system designed to protect the integrity of the data as well as the independence of the analysis on which the vaccination vetting and approval process relies,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, PHD, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and director of this survey, said in a statement. “The public would be well served if the press were to remind the public of this review process when a new vaccine is announced and vigilantly monitor it to ensure that it is doing its intended job well.”1

The study was conducted from May 31, 2023, to June 6, 2023. The topics included were RSV, vaccination, and maternal health.1 According to the statement, the FDA has currently not approved an RSV vaccine for individuals who are pregnant; however, vaccines by GSK and Pfizer for adults aged 60 years and older have been approved. The FDA is considering the Pfizer vaccination for those who are pregnant, which would help to activate antibodies that would be passed to the infant and protect them in the first 6 months of life.1

Additionally, on August 3, the CDC voted unanimously to recommend the use of nirsevimab-alip (Beyfortus; Sanofi and AstraZeneca) for the prevention of RSV lower respiratory tract disease in newborns and infants under 8 months of age who are born or entering their first RSV season.2

The study is the second installment of the Vaccine Communication and Fact-Checking Toolkit by the University of Pennsylvania in partnership with Critica.3 The authors of the second report intend to address better ways to contextualize misleading or false claims about RSV vaccination for individuals who are pregnant.1

Furthermore, the authors of the report made recommendations for public health officials and others who could help spread information about public health on the importance of vaccination against RSV. These included visually represented effects of RSV with clear and accurate information about the risks and benefits of vaccination and risks of RSV, more communication about the how science and guidelines continue to change and get updated, and information about the FDA review process.1,3


  1. How to increase acceptance of an RSV vaccine? explain the FDA’s vaccine approval process. Annenberg Public Policy Center; University of Pennsylvania. August 8, 2023. Accessed August 9, 2023.
  2. Pharmacy Times. CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends nirsevimab-alip to prevent RSV in infants. August 4, 2023. Accessed August 9, 2023.
  3. Jamieson KH, Jamieson PE, Patterson S, Robertson L, et al. Reducing susceptibilities to misconceptions about vaccinations during pregnancy: RSV. Annenberg Public Policy Center; University of Pennsylvania. August 2023. Accessed August 9, 2023.
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