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Senior Americans are hesitant to get RSV vaccination, new study suggests  


A new study from the Texas A&M University School of Public Health by Dr. Simon Haeder, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Managment, found that only 9% of older Americans had been vaccinated against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) prior to this fall and winter, despite the threat of increased rates of hospitalization and deaths nationwide from the virus.  

The study, one of the first to address seniors and RSV, was published in Health Affairs Scholar. It asked Americans over 60 about their current RSV vaccination status and their intention to get the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60,000 to 160,000 seniors in the United States are hospitalized with RSV each year, and 6,000 to 10,000 die from the infection.  

The study found that men were more likely to be vaccinated against RSV than women, and that those who were vaccinated had higher levels of concern about the disease, believed they were at greater risk for getting the disease, believed that vaccines were safe and important and had higher levels of trust in health institutions.  

Of the 91% of seniors who were unvaccinated against RSV, 42% said they planned to get the vaccination. Respondents who were vaccine hesitant reported that they did not need the vaccine, lacked information about the vaccine and had concerns about its side effects and safety.  

Haeder’s study is the latest in a series of studies assessing vaccination hesitancy in the United States. Previous studies have looked at parents’ intention to seek out vaccinations against COVID-19, influenza and RSV for their children and adults’ intention to seek out vaccinations against COVID-19.  

Haeder said vaccine hesitancy could be addressed through policies that focus on the potential benefits of vaccination and the potential risks of not being vaccinated, along with programs—especially those tailored for women.