CENTRAL VALLEY – As the season for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) rolls around, CVS Health Corporation, the country’s largest pharmacy chain, is behind in getting the FDA-approved maternal RSV vaccine out for distribution.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the RSV vaccine on Aug. 21. The Times reached out to CVS pharmacies in Reedley, Kingsburg, Dinuba and Sanger, and all of theselocations carry Arexvy, an RSV vaccine for adults aged 60 and older, but do not carry Abrysvo, the recently approved vaccine for pregnant women manufactured by Pfizer.
In an email, Matt Blanchette, a senior manager for retail communications for CVS, said the company offers all ACIP-approved vaccines to eligible populations. He said CVS is updating its internal pharmacy systems and training resources to “safely offer the maternal RSV vaccine as soon as possible.”
According to Blanchette, there is no estimation on when CVS will carry Abrysvo as of this report.
ACIP stands for Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. It is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) committee made up of medical and public health experts.
The Times reached out to local Rite Aid and Walgreen pharmacies. These chains carry both Arexvy and Abrysvo.
RSV is a leading cause of lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) and severe LRTD in infants from birth through six months of age.
According to an FDA press release, Abrysvo, which was also approved for adults last May, is recommended for use at 32 through 36 weeks gestational age of pregnancy. In clinical studies involving 3,500 pregnant women who received the vaccine, Abrysvo reduced the risk of severe LRTD in infants by nearly 82% within 90 days of birth and nearly 70% within 180 days following birth.
RSV is highly contagious and is the most frequent cause of lower respiratory tract illness in infants worldwide. In the U.S., RSV infections typically ramp up during fall and reach their peak in winter. According to the FDA, RSV causes cold-like symptoms in infants and young children. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis, which is the swelling of the small airway passages in the lungs.
According to the CDC, in the U.S., 100 to 300 children aged 5 and younger die from RSV each year. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases notes RSV causes approximately 14,000 deaths annually in adults 65 and older.