Richard H. Hughes, IV, and Spreeha Choudhury, attorneys in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, co-authored an article in Health Affairs, titled “With the Word ‘May,’ ACIP Leaves Seniors Vulnerable to RSV This Winter.”

Following is an excerpt:

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a dangerous disease for vulnerable and older adults. Last winter, RSV spiked significantly and continues to cause between 60,000-160,000 hospitalizations and 6,000-10,000 deaths each year in older adults. And yet, on June 21, 2023, after a 60-year wait for a vaccine to prevent the virus, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) declined to make a vaccine recommendation that would have provided broad, equitable, life-saving protection. Instead, it recommended the vaccines for those who “may” benefit.

Despite wide anticipation and a working group recommendation that the ACIP recommend the long-awaited, recently approved RSV vaccines for routine use in adults over the age of 65, the committee opted instead to recommend the vaccines on the basis of Shared Clinical Decision Making (SCDM). It did the same for the 60-64 population, overriding the suggestion that it at least recommend the vaccines for all African Americans in this age group.

This decision is all but guaranteed to leave many seniors vulnerable to hospitalizations and death, a point made directly by Dr. Jose Romero, the Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and former chair of the committee. Moreover, it will result in significant health inequities.

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