Reducing RSV Risks

Protecting Yourself Against RSV

As we enter the RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season, it’s essential to be informed and proactive in protecting yourself, especially if you are at a higher risk of contracting this highly contagious virus. RSV can cause severe respiratory infections in people of all ages, but it’s particularly dangerous for infants, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems. The American Lung Association reports an estimated 58,000-80,000 children younger than five years old are hospitalized each year due to RSV infection.

In 2023 the CDC recommends an RSV vaccination for adults over age 60 and people who are 32-36 weeks pregnant to protect their babies from severe RSV. In the U.S., the best time to receive the vaccination is September through January.

Understanding RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild, cold-like symptoms.

Common symptoms include a runny nose, fever, congestion, sneezing, decrease in appetite, and coughing or wheezing.

According to the CDC, most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious – especially for infants and older adults who are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. Vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV. Preventive options are available to protect infants and young children from severe RSV.

Tips to Protect Against RSV

Like other respiratory viruses, you can help limit the spread of RSV with the following preventive measures:

  1. Frequent Handwashing: Handwashing remains one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of RSV. Be diligent about washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after being in public places.
  2. Use Hand Sanitizer: When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to disinfect your hands.
  3. Avoid Close Contact: Stay away from individuals who exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness. RSV is highly contagious, and close contact with an infected person can increase your risk of contracting the virus.
  4. Wear a Mask: In crowded or indoor public settings, wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Consider wearing a mask, especially if you are in a high-risk group or in close contact with others.
  5. Practice Respiratory Etiquette: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissues in a lined trash can and wash your hands immediately.
  6. Clean and Disinfect: Regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home, such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops.
  7. Vaccination: It is essential to stay up-to-date on all recommended vaccines, as some vaccines can help reduce the severity of respiratory illnesses.
  8. Good Hygiene for Infants and Children: If you have infants or young children at home, make sure they practice good hand hygiene and avoid contact with individuals who may be ill.
  9. Seek Medical Attention Promptly: If you or a loved one experience severe respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing, high fever, or persistent cough, seek medical attention immediately.

Protecting yourself against RSV requires a combination of personal responsibility and community awareness. By following these precautions and guidelines, you can significantly reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Remember these measures not only protect you but also those who may be more vulnerable to severe RSV infections.

Our centers offer a simple nasal swab antigen test to detect RSV.

Sources:,,, American Lung Association,

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