Last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine for pregnant people that protects newborns against infections from respiratory syncytial virus, one of the leading causes of hospitalizations among infants and young children. 

When given in the third trimester of pregnancy, Abrysvo, the RSV vaccine, was proven to reduce the risk of RSV to infants by 80% three months after birth. 

But though cases of RSV are already going up in the Southeast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not recommended Abrysvo for pregnant people yet, though a vaccine is being recommended for people over 60 years old. 

Doctor Martina Badell with Emory’s Maternal Fetal Medicine division says uptake of the vaccine will likely take time. 

"Vaccine hesitancy is very real," Badell said. "Being really thoughtful and targeted on how we provide education and access to a new vaccine will be really important here in Georgia. 

By passing antibodies to babies before they’re born through the mother's bloodstream, maternal vaccines are already used to help protect against whooping cough, COVID-19, hepatitis and the flu.

"The idea is that vaccinating a pregnant person, you can provide some protection to their newborn," Badell said. "And so the RSV vaccine is sort of the newest example of that."

Maternal vaccines are commonly given during the third trimester of pregnancy to improve efficacy, Badell said. 

In most cases, RSV causes symptoms similar to the common cold. But respiratory infections from the virus also lead to thousands of hospitalizations every year nationwide. 

Positive reported cases of RSV have increased slightly this past month, according to Georgia's Department of Public Health. Cases usually spike in the fall and winter.