Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a respiratory virus that is a major cause of lower respiratory illness, especially among infants, young children, and older adults. It starts to spread in the fall and peaks in the winter months. It can cause cold-like symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from other respiratory illnesses.

For more information on clinical signs and symptoms, surveillance, laboratory testing, IPAC, reporting and patient resources, please see Respiratory Viruses Information for Health Professionals.

Children under the age of two years old who are at high risk of severe illness from RSV, may be eligible for the drug Synagis (palivizumab) used to prevent a serious lower respiratory tract infection caused by the virus.

Please see eligibility:

Adults 60 years of age and older

Arexvy is a new vaccine approved by Health Canada for the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in people 60 years of age and older. In the fall of 2023, Ontario rolled out a publicly funded vaccination program for eligible people (i.e., 60+) living in long-term care homes, Elder Care Lodges, and  retirement homes licensed to provide dementia care. In December 2023, the roll-out was expanded  to include individuals 60 years of age and older who are:

  • hospital ALC patients
  • receiving dialysis
  • transplant recipients
  • experiencing homelessness
  • Indigenous, including those in urban dwellings.

For patients who are 60 years of age or older and not eligible for the publicly funded vaccine, health care providers should discuss receiving the RSV vaccine through private purchase.

Patients that are eligible for a publicly funded Arexvy, are recommended to be vaccinated as soon as possible. At this time, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has not provided guidance on the use of this vaccine.

Arexvy is given as a single dose. A 14-day period is needed between receiving Arexvy and another vaccine, such as COVID-19 and influenza, so that any adverse effects following the vaccination can be better monitored and managed.

Early evidence from clinical trials has shown that Arexvy  is generally well tolerated with the most reported adverse events being:

  • injection site pain
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain

Common side effects can include redness and swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, and runny nose.

Swelling of lymph nodes, and allergic reaction such as rash, nausea, or stomach pain is uncommon. Serious side effects from the vaccine are rare.

Health care providers are required to report all Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) to Toronto Public Health (TPH). To report, fax the completed AEFI Reporting Form (Public Health Ontario) to 416-696-3492 or email the completed form to

Most people who get RSV recover on their own within one to two weeks. However, RSV can cause severe illness in some people, and medical attention and treatment are needed. Antiviral medication is not routinely recommended to fight infection.