Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Immunisation

RSV is a common respiratory infection. It mostly affects young children. Adults can also get it. RSV symptoms are usually mild. However, some children and adults can get very sick and need to go to hospital for treatment. RSV if estimated to cause one in 50 deaths in children under five. In the over 65 age group, at least 300,000 people are admitted to hospital with RSV each year.

Symptoms can include;

  • Runny nose
  • cough
  • wheeze 
  • difficulty breathing 
  • fever 
  • cyanosis (bluish or greyish colour of skin) 

Babies under one year of age are more likely to get breathing problems from an RSV infection. This can include bronchiolitis or pneumonia. Children who get severely unwell may need to go to hospital.

Most infections in NSW occur in the cooler months of late autumn or winter. 

Can RSV be prevented? 

RSV is highly contagious and you can be infectious with RSV for up to 10 days afters symptoms start. 

To prevent the spread of RSV;

  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue (not your hand)
  • Wash your hands with soapy water and use hand sanitiser when out and about
  • Wear a mask where possible
  • Avoid contact with anyone sick.

What vaccinations or immunisations are available for RSV?

Some babies and older people can now get an immunisation or RSV vaccine. 

For those over 60 years; 

An RSV vaccine called Arexvy is available if you are aged 60 years and older and may be at higher risk of severe illness from RSV. 

It has been recommended by ATAGI (The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) for;

  • All adults aged 75 years or older 
  • All Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 60 years or older 
  • All adults aged 60 years or older with at least one other risk factor for severe disease. These risk factors include any chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes, and a compromised immune system (e.g. due to chemotherapy or other medications).  

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine, whether it is recommended for you and cost (at YFD it is available for  $315) 

For babies;

An immunisation called Beyfortus (nirsevimab), a monoclonal antibody (mAB)  has been approved for babies under 12 months of age who are at the highest risk of severe illness from RSV. It is a passive immunisation that provides antibodies directly to the infant for immediate protection. The antibody protects against RSV for at least 5 months after a single dose. Medical studies have shown Beyfortus™ (nirsevimab) to be around 80 percent effective in preventing children from being hospitalised with RSV during the RSV season.

The ‘NSW RSV Vulnerable Babies Program’ offers Beyfortus from March 2024 to September 2024 to infants who are at high-risk of RSV lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI). The eligibility criteria includes:

  • babies born before 37 weeks gestation and after 31 October 2023
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born after 31 October 2023
  • other infants living with specific chronic and complex health conditions.

Further information about the eligibility for Beyfortus™ (nirsevimab) is available on or discuss with your doctor. 

Abrysvo, is a RSV vaccine that has been approved for use in Australia in pregnant women as a protective measure for their babies in their first 6 months of life. but isn’t available yet. 

Treatment of RSV 

There is no specific treatment for RSV. Most people can be managed at home with

  • rest
  • fluids (for babies – small, regular amounts of fluid (breastmilk, formula or water).
  • paracetamol or ibuprofen for fevers or pain.

Antibiotics don’t work against RSV because it is a virus.

Recovery can take 8 – 15 days. 

For children that show severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, dehydration , blueness in the lips or skin – call triple zero (000) or go to hospital.



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