PHILADELPHIA — June 12, 2023 — A new survey from Health Union, the leader in social health, reveals that older individuals – including those living with chronic health conditions – are open to discussing the vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, with their healthcare professionals and accepting their recommendation about the shot. The findings from the Vaccine Awareness, Use And Intentions survey, which aimed to uncover the perspectives and experiences with various specific vaccines, show this is the case despite respondents having little previous awareness of the newly approved RSV vaccine and minimal exposure so far.
In early May, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first RSV vaccine, specifically for people 60 and older; other RSV vaccines, with varying indications, are also in the pipeline. Of the survey’s 3,307 respondents, 77% are at least 60 years old. With 98% of 60-and-up respondents living with at least one chronic health condition, analyzing this subset allows for a greater understanding of behaviors and perspectives about the RSV vaccine, and the impact of contracting RSV, within the chronic condition community.
Only 35% of respondents who were 60 and older said they had even heard of an RSV vaccine when the survey was fielded in late March, less than two months before the first vaccine was approved. Six in 10 of the 60-and-up cohort said they would be extremely likely to ask their healthcare professional about the RSV vaccine once it was available, while nearly two-thirds said they would be extremely likely to accept their HCP’s recommendation about the vaccine.
Among this subset of respondents, exposure so far to RSV has been low, although a significant portion of those experiences have been severe. Only 2% have personally contracted RSV. To put it in context with other vaccine-related conditions, fewer respondents have contracted RSV than COVID-19 (44%), flu (25%), pneumonia (14%) and shingles (9%).
However, nearly four in 10 who have contracted RSV identified their experiences as “severe” or “very severe.” Inversely, that is higher than those who identified “severe” or “very severe” experiences with COVID-19 (17%), flu (17%) and shingles (24%); pneumonia is the exception, with 47% considering their experiences at least “severe.”
Despite low perceived risk of contracting RSV, respondents still expressed a modicum of concern about its potential impact. Less than a quarter of 60-and-up respondents were at least somewhat concerned about contracting it over the next year, while nearly three-fourths would be at least somewhat concerned about how contracting RSV would impact their quality of life.
Respondents’ comments reveal they are concerned about recent RSV-related illnesses and hospitalizations among older populations. For example, one individual said that “anything respiratory can be a potential death sentence for me.” Another pointed out that “recent illness and hospitalizations due to RSV in the senior population demonstrates that it is not restricted to infants.”
Health Union’s Vaccine Awareness, Use And Intentions survey, which fielded March 20-28, 2023, included responses from 3,307 people aged 50 and older, recruited from across more than a dozen of the company’s chronic condition-specific online health communities. Additional survey results may be available upon request.
About Health Union
Health Union is the proven industry leader driving and amplifying social health. As the premier social health company, only Health Union encourages the dynamic, real-time action people take to find meaningful connections and share information that impact their health journey. The company reaches millions of people through the largest portfolio of condition-specific online health communities (e.g., Migraine.com, MultipleSclerosis.net, LungCancer.net) and health leaders – addressing virtually every condition and providing the information, connection and support they need.