Biden administration needs to work quickly on RSV immunizations

And also must assure they’re accessible to all families

March 7, 2023 6:02 am

The good news is that there is a solution to combat the spread of RSV. (Photo courtesy of the Healthy Asian Pacific Islander Medical Center)

The Asian Community Development Council is committed to improving the general well-being and education of Asian, Pacific Islander communities in Nevada. We promote, foster, champion and advocate for the community and work on providing critical information to underserved communities.      

During the height of the pandemic we organized food banks within these communities and we helped families navigate options and eligibility for healthcare. Our goal during the pandemic was to assist and educate the AAPI community on the COVID-19 vaccination and debunk misinformation that was heavily targeting our community. In 2022, we hosted a total of 41 in-house and pop-up immunization clinics to keep people updated with their COVID vaccinations and get their seasonal flu shots. We went to schools, nursing homes and wherever we needed to be to keep Nevadans safe. 

We continue to take protecting our community through immunization seriously. That’s why, early last year we opened the Healthy Asian Pacific Islander (HAPI) Medical Center. The clinic is focused on supporting Southern Nevada’s Asian, Pacific Islander community, especially those that are uninsured, underinsured and underserved.

One of HAPI’s primary missions, which the pandemic demonstrated is critically important, is providing immunization against illnesses that affect a broad population. While we continue to adjust to life with COVID, there is another respiratory disease that particularly affects infants and elderly individuals that doesn’t receive enough attention, RSV.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause a range of symptoms from mild cold symptoms to severe breathing difficulty. Despite its prevalence, many people are unaware of its potential dangers.

RSV is a major cause of hospitalization for infants under the age of 1 in the United States, with up to 80,000 children requiring emergency room treatment annually. During the last RSV season, approximately four out of every 1,000 babies under 6 months of age were hospitalized due to their condition.

Last year, Nevada experienced an intense RSV season. 1,224 RSV cases were reported in October alone, compared to just 1,100 cases that were reported throughout 2021. This represented more than double the number of cases from the previous year. The surge in RSV cases throughout the state led to a shortage of pediatric beds in hospitals.

The good news is that there is a solution to combat the spread of RSV in the United States. However, urgent action from our leaders is needed. Scientists have been developing new ways to fight RSV, and some companies have already submitted their immunizations for review by the FDA and CDC, with some being approved in Europe.

To mitigate the impact of RSV, it’s crucial that the FDA and CDC quickly license and recommend new immunizations to protect infants against RSV before the next season arrives. We cannot predict the severity of the next outbreak, so it’s imperative that the Biden administration ensures these immunizations are accessible to all families through programs like the Vaccines for Children and Affordable Care Act. 

As an advocate and leader in our community, we feel strongly about making sure that every infant is able to benefit from this new immunization. We know that it is effective in protecting children from the effects of RSV, but if the federal government does not act in an expeditious manner now, physicians and health clinics like HAPI won’t have the immunizations ready to protect our community, especially infants and the elderly, and prevent outbreaks that will come with this fall’s RSV season. 

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Eric Jeng
Eric Jeng

Asian Community Development Council's Director of Outreach

Chloe Hsia
Chloe Hsia

Asian Community Development Council's Director of Strategic Initiatives