RSV vaccine awareness low among older adults, but majority would ask their doc about new shots: survey

Most older adults aren’t aware of RSV vaccinations, but most would talk to and accept recommendations about these shots from their doctors.

That’s according to a new survey by social health organization Health Union, called: Vaccine Awareness, Use And Intentions. The survey results are based on responses from 3,307 people, with 77% of the respondents being 60 years old or older.

When the survey was undertaken in late March, just 35% of respondents who were 60 and older said they had heard of an RSV vaccine, which is designed to stop the spread of this common cold virus that can cause serious complication in the very young and the old.

That’s perhaps not too surprising, given that until May of this year, no RSV vaccine existed, though now there are two FDA approved shots from GSK and Pfizer.

Both companies are expected to go full throttle on awareness campaigns and, later, DTC work. As those efforts increase, that 35% number will likely start to grow.

More encouragingly for GSK and Pfizer, however, was the finding that 6 in 10 of the 60-and-up cohort from the survey said they “would be extremely likely to ask their healthcare professional about the RSV vaccine once it was available,” according to Health Union.

Meanwhile, it found that nearly two-thirds said they “would be extremely likely” to accept their healthcare professional’s recommendation about the vaccine.

RSV can cause severe complications in older adults, including pneumonia, hospitalization and sometimes it can even prove fatal. But there still appears to be a low level of concern among older adults about getting the respiratory infection.

Less than one-quarter of 60-and-up respondents were at least “somewhat concerned” about contracting it over the next year, while nearly three-fourths would be at least somewhat concerned about how contracting RSV would impact their quality of life.

Actual numbers of those surveyed who have had the disease was also relatively low at just 2% of the older adults’ group, far fewer than those that have had COVID-19 (44%), flu (25%), pneumonia (14%) and shingles (9%).

But the survey found that nearly 4 in 10 who have contracted RSV said their experiences were "severe" or "very severe."

That’s higher than those who identified "severe" or "very severe" experiences with COVID-19 (17%), flu (17%) and shingles (24%); pneumonia is the exception, with 47% considering their experiences at least "severe."