Pharmacists recommending everyone over 60 get the RSV vaccine this season

Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 6:58 PM EDT|Updated: 10 hours ago
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -RSV is a dangerous respiratory illness that until recent years was mostly effecting babies and young children. But seniors are also at risk, and pharmacists are now recommending those over 60 add an RSV shot to their seasonal vaccine routine.

Seniors are weighing their options when it comes to this additional vaccine for RSV.

Tom Peshek heads to his local discount drug mart every fall and rolls up his sleeve for a flu shot.

“This year, this RSV one was available. I decided to get that first, and then another day we’ll get the flu shot,” he said.

His son, pharmacist Chris Peshek, says at 70, his dad is wise to add this to his fall routine.

“It’s not necessarily recommended for healthy individuals. It’s 60 and older that’s really the target population, for the most part, that this vaccine is intended for to prevent those severe infections and to prevent those hospitalizations,” he said.

Severe cases of RSV among those over 60 can lead to lingering health issues.

“You run the risk of hospitalization and other complications that could be tied to that type of thing, so long-term respiratory effects and those kind of things,” Peshek said.

It’s recommended for everybody 60 and older. But that recommendation is even stronger if you also have chronic conditions in addition to just your age, like respiratory conditions, diabetes or heart conditions.

Tom says he does fall into the category of seniors who’d be especially vulnerable if he came down with RSV.

“I have asthma and so seasonally I get those asthma symptoms. So, I don’t want that to be worse than you know normal,” he said.

Adding RSV to his existing asthma conditions scares him.

“It can’t be good. I don’t know the details, but I know that it wouldn’t be good to have those two in concert,” he said.

So far this season pharmacists at Concord area Discount Drug Mart say about 20 percent of seniors who have come in to get a flu shot are also getting an RSV vaccine.

With the growing list of recommended vaccines for seniors, between flu, covid, shingles and now RSV, should seniors get them all at once and risk compounding potential side effects, or stagger their shots? Peshek says whatever gets you best protection is the right option.

“If somebody doesn’t get out much maybe or they have a hard time getting out of the house for them. just getting all the vaccines, they can get at the same time in one visit. It’s probably going to be the best scenario so you don’t delay getting the vaccine. Whereas if you’re completely mobile and you’re out at the pharmacy, you know once a week anyway, and you want to space your vaccines by two weeks then maybe that’s a better option for you,” Peshek said.

“The consequences of not getting the shot can be kind of severe, maybe more so as the years go by,” the elder Peshek said.

Those who chose to get the RSV vaccine could see potential side effects, like runny nose, fatigue, and headache. But nothing near what seniors would feel if they were to actually come down with RSV. Most Medicare plans are covering this vaccine.