/ Impfservice 9 Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

What is RSV (respiratory syncytial virus)?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an enveloped RNA virus (ribonucleic acid virus) that infects the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract (particularly the upper airways and the ciliated epithelium of the windpipe, bronchi and bronchioles) and causes cell fusion (so-called syncytia). The RS virus is a common cause of respiratory infections (such as bronchitis or pneumonia), especially in infants and toddlers. Symptoms are often similar to a cold, but in some cases, infection can cause severe disease or even death.


How is the RS virus spread?

The highly infectious RS virus is spread through droplets or secretions from mouth and nose or through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. Most people get their first infection in the first two years of life.
Currently, there is no specific treatment of RSV infection.


What are the recommendations for vaccination?

The RS virus is a widespread seasonal virus that commonly circulates from September to March. In infants, people with pre-existing medical conditions and elderly people (>60) the virus can cause severe symptoms.

To prevent severe disease (active protection) vaccination is recommended for people aged 60 and older and for people aged 18 and older with underlying medical conditions who are at risk of developing severe disease.

  • This includes: people with severe decompensated organ function (organ failure)
  • oncology patients
  • people with immunodeficiencies, severe underlying respiratory, cardiac, renal, endocrine, metabolic or neurological diseases
  • severely overweight persons (BMI ≥ 30)
  • people with HIV infection or other immunosuppressive diseases
  • residents of retirement and nursing homes

Please consult your paediatrician for RSV vaccination of (young) children. Currently, there is no approved RSV vaccine available that is indicated for active immunisation of children. However, monoclonal antibodies may be used for passive immunisation (available at a charge).

Pregnant persons can get vaccinated with Abrysvo®, an approved RSV vaccine, to pass on passive immunity (passive protection) to their infants.
According to approval, pregnant persons will be vaccinated once between pregnancy weeks 24 and 36, particularly when their due date falls into the RSV peak season from September to March.



Currently, there are 2 RSV vaccines available in Austria:

  • Arexvy®: adjuvanted subunit vaccine
  • Abrysvo®: non-adjuvanted bivalent (A/B) subunit vaccine (This vaccine is also approved for vaccination of pregnant persons between weeks 24 and 36.)

Both vaccines, Abrysvo® and Arexvy®, are available at the Town Town vaccination centre of Municipal Department 15.


How to get vaccinated

Immunisation, i. e. full protection, is achieved by one dose of the vaccine. According to the current state of knowledge, there are no follow-up or booster vaccinations required.


Side effects of vaccination

People aged 60 and over
Pain at the injection site was the most reported side effect in people aged 60 and over. Reactions were mostly rated as minor to moderate and usually disappeared within 1 to 2 days.

Pregnant persons
Injection site pain, headache and muscle pain were the most reported side effects in pregnant persons between weeks 24 und 36. Reactions were mostly rated as minor to moderate and usually disappeared within 2 to 3 days.