Mighty Blog

What families should know about the new RSV treatment for babies and toddlers

Last updated on 11/16/2023. 

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory illness in babies and young children every year from late fall to early spring. With the newly approved RSV treatment, Beyfortus, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for infants and newborns, families will be able to get ahead of the RSV season this year and protect their young ones.

What is RSV?

Dad holding sick baby

RSV is a virus that causes an infection in the lungs and breathing passages and can be dangerous for infants and young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most children are infected by RSV by age 2.  

Most times, an RSV infection will be mild and cold-like, but in severe cases, babies can develop bronchiolitis or pneumonia. The CDC estimates 58,000 to 80,000 children under 5 years of age, most of them infants, are hospitalized each year nationwide due to RSV infection. And sadly, each year, an estimated 100-300 children younger than 5 years of age die due to RSV. 

Learn more about how RSV spread, symptoms and prevention tips. 

What is Beyfortus and when should families expect it to be available?  

The new RSV treatment is essentially a one-time injection of antibodies so that babies and toddlers don’t have to create it when they get infected with RSV. Having antibodies helps our body fight off infections by recognizing and removing bacteria and viruses from our bodies. Learn more about the new treatment option on the FDA website.

Due to nationwide supply issues, Children’s Minnesota has very limited supply of Beyfortus for newborns and older infants (up to 8 months of age) who have severe medical conditions that put them at highest risk as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our call centers are very busy. If your child meets this criteria, your Children’s Minnesota clinic will contact you if we have vaccine available. We are unable to schedule requested RSV vaccine appointments at this time.s

Who can get Beyfortus?  

Beyfortus is approved for the following groups: 

  • Babies under 8 months old who are born during or entering their first RSV season. 
  • Toddlers up to 2 years old that are vulnerable to severe infections from respiratory illnesses will be able to get a second dose during their second RSV season.

Why families should consider getting Beyfortus

When there was a spike in respiratory illnesses last year, hospitals everywhere were overwhelmed, and families were waiting for hours to be seen in emergency rooms across the nation. Some patients had to spend a week or more in the hospital or even in the intensive care unit (ICU).  

The new treatment option went through three clinical trials before getting approved and in all three trials, it was shown to effectively prevent severe cases of RSV in infants. The experts at Children’s Minnesota strongly encourage families to get Beyfortus to protect their young ones. Even if a baby or toddler gets RSV, the treatment is demonstrating in trials a 70% reduction of a child needing to be seen by a physician for respiratory illness or hospitalization.

Watch more on the new RSV treatment

In July 2023, Dr. Gigi Chawla joined WCCO Mid-Mornings to discuss the RSV treatment that was recently approved by the FDA.

Dr. Gigi Chawla on WCCO
Click to watch segment
Alexandra Rothstein