HONOLULU (KHON2) — A new health alert from the CDC warns of a limited supply of a drug that is designed to protect infants from the RSV virus.
CDC officials are advising pediatricians to prioritize doses to infants with the highest risk of symptoms.
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The RSV vaccine that is available for those 60 and older prompts the body to create its own antibodies — pediatricians say the shot for infants is a bit different.
“Especially the babies under 12 months, if this is their first RSV season, they’re talking about giving them an antibody shot,” pediatrician Dr. Theresa Wee said. “So, they’re getting something to protect them against a severe RSV infection. So, it’s a little bit different.”
The vaccine supplier said it is working with its manufacturer to accelerate supply and Dr. Wee said parents should talk to their pediatrician to find out if there are doses available near them.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii said local supply is very, very limited.
“It has been ordered, but there is very, very limited availability,” HAH president & CEO Hilton Raethel said. “The recommendation is for infants who are six months and under and those with who may be up to 24 months who are immunocompromised.”
KHON2 asked about how long the limited supply of infant shots is expected to last.
“Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a while because it is such an effective vaccine. There is such a high demand for it,” HAH president & CEO Hilton Raethel said. “It’s only become available this year, but it means the subsequent years will be in much better shape.
Dr. Wee added that four pediatric RSV cases in her practice were hospitalized in the last month and said symptoms to look out for include a high fever, trouble breathing, loss of appetite or increased irritability.
“Don’t even come to see your doctor,” Dr. Wee said, “just take them to the nearest emergency room for an evaluation.”
Kupuna are at a high risk of RSV as well, but there are ways to prepare without rolling up a sleeve.
“If you’re a healthy person, you’ll be able to fight it off,” Dr. Wee said. “Strengthen your immune system, get your sleep, eat healthy, drink your water, you know, stop eating junk food, you know, so we can take responsibility.”
The Health Department said it is working on a response to the new CDC guidance for infant RSV shots.