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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that causes infections in the lungs. Most people, including healthy children, recover on their own in a week or two. In infants and children at high risk, however, RSV infection can lead to bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the airways in the lungs, or pneumonia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 57,000 children are hospitalized every year for RSV infection.1 Those most at risk include:
- Premature infants
- Children younger than 2 years with chronic lung disease
- Children younger than 2 years with chronic heart disease
- Children with weakened immune systems
- Children with neuromuscular disorders that cause difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus
If your child falls into one of these groups, your doctor may prescribe a medication called Synagis® (palivizumab) to help prevent infection throughout the RSV season. The following is general information about Synagis and how it’s administered.
What does Synagis do?
Synagis works by helping the child’s immune system stop or slow an RSV infection. It is not used to treat children who already have RSV.
How is it administered?
Synagis is given by injection in the muscles of the thigh by a doctor or nurse.
When is it administered?
The first dose of Synagis is given before the beginning of RSV season, which typically starts in the fall and ends in the spring, but varies in different parts of the country. This is followed by an additional injection every 28 to 30 days until the RSV season ends. Your child’s doctor will determine the exact dosing schedule.
How effective is Synagis at preventing RSV infection?
Synagis doesn’t eliminate the risk of RSV infection completely. Your child may get an infection if exposed to the virus. However, the infection won’t be as severe and will be easier to clear. It’s important to know the signs of infection – your doctor or CVS Specialty CareTeam can help if you have questions.
Does Synagis have side effects?
Yes, but they are usually not significant. Common side effects include:
- Redness, swelling, warmth, or pain in the area where the injection was given
These symptoms should resolve on their own. However, you should contact your doctor if they don’t go away.
Rarely, side effects can be serious and may signal an allergic reaction. Contact your doctor immediately or get medical help right away if your child experiences:
- Severe rash, hives, or itching skin
- Unusual bruising
- Groups of tiny red spots on the skin
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficult, rapid, or irregular breathing
- Bluish-tinged skin, lips, or fingernails
- Muscle weakness or floppiness
- Loss of consciousness
If you have any questions about your child’s treatment with Synagis, talk to your doctor or contact your CVS Specialty CareTeam.
This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.
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1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website, www.cdc.gov/rsv. Accessed December 5, 2018.