The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and New Hampshire healthcare providers are reminding Granite Staters that the fall and winter respiratory illness season is quickly approaching and steps can be taken now and in the coming weeks to protect yourself and loved ones. All New Hampshire residents are encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider about receiving updated immunizations to protect them against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), influenza, and the COVID-19 virus, all of which can cause serious illness.
“The best way for people to protect themselves against RSV, flu, and COVID-19 is by getting the recommended immunizations,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “It is particularly important for older adults who are at higher risk for severe illness and parents of infants and very young children to talk with their healthcare provider about available treatments to prevent severe RSV illness.”
Two new RSV vaccines are available for adults 60 years of age and older. Preliminary clinical trials have shown that a single dose of the vaccine is 80-90% effective at preventing RSV lower respiratory tract infection in the near-term as study of long-term durability of protection remains ongoing.
In addition, a new preventive RSV monoclonal antibody (nirsevimab, brand name Beyfortus) will be available in the coming weeks to protect infants and very young children against RSV. A single dose of nirsevimab is recommended for ALL infants under 8 months of age who are entering their first RSV season, as well as certain high-risk children 8-19 months entering their second season. Clinical studies have shown nirsevimab is about 80% effective at preventing severe lower respiratory tract infection or RSV-related hospitalizations.
These RSV immunizations can be given at the same visit with other vaccines, including the seasonal influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, both of which are recommended for this coming respiratory virus season.
- This year’s flu vaccine is available and recommended for anyone 6 months or older;
- An updated COVID-19 vaccine will be available mid-September, likely for all persons 6 months of age and older. Final recommendations are coming in the next few weeks;
- All residents should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their risk and decide which vaccines are right for them, especially high-risk populations including the elderly, very young infants and children, pregnant mothers, and individuals who are immunocompromised.
RSV is a seasonal virus that frequently causes severe disease and can lead to hospitalization, especially in very young infants and children who may not have been exposed to the virus in the past, and in older adults. The DHHS Division of Public Health Services also recommends good infection prevention practices to stay healthy such as frequent handwashing, covering your mouth or nose when sneezing or coughing, and staying home when you are sick.