Deborah’s RSV Story

Video transcript

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in older adults typically causes mild cold-like symptoms including runny nose, sore throat, cough, and headache.

In older adults, however, RSV can sometimes be severe, causing hospitalization and, in some cases, death.

Deborah is a patient advocate and survivor of RSV. This is her experience. Others’ experiences with RSV may be different.

Deborah is not a healthcare provider. She was compensated by GSK for her participation in this program.


I think it’s very important to spend as much time with my family as I can. I don’t miss out on important moments very often, but when I do, it bothers me.

One of the moments I missed was this past Christmas. That’s when Santa decided to bring me a case of RSV.

My new grandbaby was five months old, and this was his first Christmas, and I didn’t feel well enough to be part of that, and I was afraid I might give him RSV.

I was sitting home alone crocheting. I was coughing and hacking and sneezing and feeling very alone without my family.

It was probably the worst Christmas I’ve ever had.

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Deborah’s RSV Story


I started having flu-like symptoms in late November…

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RSV is similar to some other respiratory infections. A cough or sneeze can easily spread it.


...right after Thanksgiving. It was a cough that was deep and wet, and I just couldn’t stop coughing once I started.

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RSV is usually mild, though in older adults, it can sometimes be severe.


My nose was running almost constantly, and my whole body ached, and I felt pretty miserable. When I would breathe in, there was like a rattling sound in my chest.

I went and got tested, and the nasal swab test came back positive for RSV.

I was a little shocked to realize that older adults could get RSV. My daughter is a preschool teacher. I was familiar that children could get it, but I was surprised that older adults could get it.

The doctor told me that because it was a virus there wasn’t a whole lot they could do for me, just treat the symptoms.

She did prescribe an inhaler, but it didn’t help a whole lot.

RSV is different for everyone, but for me, it went on for almost three months.

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Most RSV infections go away on their own in a week or two. People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days.


I felt I shouldn’t hold my grandbaby, and I felt I should keep my distance from all my family during that period because I didn’t want to expose them to RSV.

Normally I love being active with my partner, Jim. We love traveling and being outdoors, but with RSV I just couldn’t be that active person that I normally am.

I volunteer once a week at our hospital’s cancer center. I had to stop that with RSV because the patients there are already immunocompromised. I couldn’t take the risk of exposing them to RSV.

And I volunteer at our public library in the children’s section, just keeping the books in order. I was coughing so much that I was sure the librarians were going to “shhhh” me when I was there, so I didn’t volunteer at the library.

Fortunately, life is good again, and I’m back to volunteering and spending time with my family. It feels so good to have RSV behind me and to be back to my active lifestyle.

Now that I’m done with RSV, I can enjoy those special moments with my grandson and with Jim and all of our family.

I think it’s important for people to be aware that RSV can affect older adults as well as children.

I think having RSV made me more appreciative of my good health.

Still though, I’ll never forget what it took away. It makes me almost angry that I lost those precious moments to RSV.

I can’t get those moments back.

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©2023 GSK or licensor. RSAVID230058 October 2023 Produced in USA.