Study: If 66% of Adults 60 and Older Receive RSV Immunization, Infections Can Be Reduced

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If vaccination coverage was increased by 100%, outpatient care could be reduced by 81.2%, hospitalizations by 91.7%, and deaths by 91.3%.

New study findings announced that the mortality rate and illness caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the United States would decrease significantly if the vaccine was endorsed similarly to the annual influenza vaccines, according to research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study assessed the impact and cost of RSV vaccines among older populations.

Vaccine vials used for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) with a syringe- Image credit: Peter Hansen | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: Peter Hansen | stock.adobe.com

“RSV causes substantial morbidity and mortality among the elderly in the US and globally, but this is the first time that RSV vaccines have been available,” said Alison Galvani, senior author and the Burnett and Stender Families Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) at the Yale School of Public Health, in a press release “We wanted to understand the potential impact of RSV vaccination in terms of averting illness, medical costs, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

RSV is a respiratory virus that commonly presents with mild cold-like symptoms in individuals, lasting for an average of 1 to 2 weeks. However, the illness can be life-threatening for older adults. According to the CDC, RSV causes about 60,000 to 160,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 to 10,000 deaths annually among adults ages 65 years and older.

Following the approval of the RSV vaccines Arexy (GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals) and Abryvso (Pfizer Inc.) in adults 60 years and older, the researchers found that as of December 1, 2023, just 14.8% of individuals 60 years and older had received the vaccine in the United States.

The study authors noted that the RSV vaccines are covered by private insurance and do not include a copay because they are recommended by the CDC. Other individuals that are enrolled in Medicare Part D could receive the vaccines without charge.

To conduct the study, the researchers based an RSV outcomes model on 100,000 cases of individuals 60 years and older that needed outpatient, inpatient, or intensive care, along with the death rate for those admitted for care.

The study authors noted that the aim of the model was to evaluate if the outcomes would differ and reduce if 66% of individuals aged 60 years and older received the vaccine—similar coverage to the influenza vaccine among adults in the same age group.

“It would be great if we could achieve even higher levels,” said Galvani, director of Yale’s Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis, in the press release. “But if we can achieve that for flu, it makes sense that would be feasible for RSV vaccination as well.”

The results found that if vaccination coverage was increased by 100%, outpatient care could be reduced by 81.2%, hospitalizations by 91.7%, and deaths by 91.3%.

However, the researchers found that if 66% of individuals 60 years and older received the RSV vaccine, it would cost the United States health care system $7.1 billion in one season, compared to $6.4 billion.

Galvani noted that many private insurers are not yet clear if they will cover vaccines, and if certain Medicare plans would as well. Individuals that are 60 to 64 years of age are not qualified for Medicare and may not have health care insurance.

“Accessibility and cost are definitely concerns in the American health care system,” Galvani said in the press release. “We hope that our results will inform decision-makers about the health and economic benefits of vaccination, as our results demonstrate the importance of making these vaccines accessible to everyone over 60 years to realize their full benefit.”

Reference

RSV vaccines would greatly reduce illness if implemented like flu shots. EurekAlert!. News release. January 2, 2024. Accessed January 8, 2024. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1030101.

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