Washington: A first-of-its-kind RSV vaccine for pregnant women guards their newborns against the scary respiratory virus -– and federal health advisers have backed Pfizer’s shot despite some lingering questions.
RSV fills hospitals with wheezing babies each fall and winter, and the virus struck earlier than usual and especially hard in the U.S. this past year.
If the vaccine pans out, “many infants and their parents will breathe easier in the coming years,” said Dr. Jay Portnoy, a member of the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.
The idea: Give women a single injection late in pregnancy, between 24 weeks and 36 weeks, so they develop RSV-fighting antibodies that pass through the placenta — just like they pass protection against other bugs to their babies.
In Pfizer’s international study of nearly 7,400 pregnant women, maternal vaccination proved 82% effective at preventing severe RSV during babies’ most vulnerable first three months of life. At age 6 months, it still was proving 69% protective against severe illness.