Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. It can spread when someone with the virus sneezes or coughs, through close contact with someone who is sick, or by touching infected surfaces. Most people recover in a week or two, but infants, toddlers, and adults 60 years and older are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. 

What can you do to protect yourself?

Infants, pregnant people, and older adults should get immunized to stay protected from serious illness. RSV is most common between October through March. RSV can spread at the same time as COVID and flu, so it’s important to protect yourself and others with immunizations from all three viruses.​ 

How can you get vaccinated?

Reach out to your local doctor or pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, Costco) to ask if RSV vaccine is right for you and about availability.

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RSV immunizations to protect infants and toddlers

Talk to your doctor about getting RSV vaccine during your pregnancy and about RSV immunization for your baby.  

RSV vaccine during pregnancy

Pregnant people should receive the RSV vaccine (Abrysvo) at 32 to 36 weeks during pregnancy during September through January. When a pregnant person gets RSV vaccine, their protective proteins (called antibodies) also pass to their baby. The vaccine can reduce a baby’s risk of being hospitalized from RSV by 57 percent in the first six months after birth.

RSV immunization for infants and toddlers

If the vaccine was not received by the birth parent during pregnancy, all infants under 8 months and infants 8 to 19 months at high risk should receive a dose of Nirsevimab (Beyfortus) during RSV season. Nirsevimab reduces the risk of severe RSV disease by about 80 percent.

Side effects

  • Temporary pain
  • Redness
  • swelling where the injection was given
  • rash
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RSV vaccine for older adults

If you are 60 or older, your health care provider might recommend RSV vaccination for you, especially if you have a weakened immune system. 

There are two RSV vaccines available:

  • Arexvy
  • Abrysvo

How well do these vaccines work?

Both vaccines contain a part of the RSV virus. Both vaccines work by causing an immune response that can protect you from respiratory disease if you are infected with RSV in the future.

One dose of RSV vaccine provides protection against RSV disease in adults ages 60 years and older for at least two winter seasons, when RSV normally circulates.

Adults at highest risk for severe RSV include:

  • Adults with chronic heart or lung disease, such as asthma
  • Adults with weakened immune systems (HIV, or having cancer treatments)
  • Adults with certain other underlying medical conditions (diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, sickle cell disease)
  • Adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities

Side effects

  • Pain at the injection site 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
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What is the cost?

  • RSV vaccines for adults are covered by most private insurance and Medi-Cal.
  • If your child is uninsured, underinsured, Medi-Cal eligible or American Indian/Alaskan Native, they are eligible to receive RSV and other recommended immunizations through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
  • If you need help enrolling for health insurance, call (866) 967-4677 or drop-in at 770 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose CA, 95128.

Other prevention tips

​For others who are less likely to get a severe RSV illness, everyday preventative actions can also help prevent the spread of RSV, flu, COVID, and other respiratory viruses, including:

  • ​​Stay home if you’re feeling sick.
  • Wear a mask, especially if you are sick or in crowded or indoor areas. 
  • Wash your hands regularly. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze. 
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RSV data for Santa Clara County 

The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department monitors RSV activity during the respiratory virus season, which typically occurs October through the following May. View RSV report.

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