As a preemie mom, these three letters scare the ish out of me. As someone who isn't, you may have never even heard of RSV.
RSV is a virus, that for an adult or an older, healthy child, will cause symptoms of the common cold. But for a preemie who spent months on oxygen support, RSV can mean hospitalization, and in some rare and extreme cases, death.
RSV season is roughly October through April, though it changes each year. The CDC website is the most reliable source to find out when RSV hits your city each year. In our case, RSV season started as of November 1st. Last year when we came home from the NICU, we were in the thick of RSV season. We were basically under house arrest, with very few visitors allowed at our home. We only went out to doctor's appointments and quick walks around the neighborhood, where there were little or no people. As an added precaution, the boys received a shot once a month, called Synagis. Most people think this is a vaccine, but really it is a booster shot that must be administered once a month throughout the season. These shots are extremely expensive, around $1200 per shot, per month, per boy. Insurance companies usually cover Synagis, but they have very specific criteria which baby must meet in order to be approved.
Since A&R were fresh out of the hospital last year, they were approved with no problem at all. This year was different, though. When October rolled around, our pediatrician began the paperwork to get the boys approved for Synagis. A few weeks passed and we got two denial letters in the mail. I was completely devastated and afraid for my babies. This meant that not only do we have to remain on lock down at home, but we still have to worry about RSV in the event that they somehow come into contact with it. (If you're wondering why we're locking down again, it's because it is recommended that extra precautions are taken for the first two years of a premature child's life, who is considered high risk). Remember, although we can do our best to limit supermarket trips and get togethers with the boys, they still receive therapy almost daily. And in most cases their therapists are working with other children all day long. Germs can be carried this way, and we would have no way of knowing.
My fear kicked my momma bear instincts into high gear, and I asked our pediatrician to appeal the denial. I called our insurance company and got detailed instructions on how to submit an appeal, and relayed those instructions to our pediatrician. Another few weeks passed by, and two more letters were delivered to our house. This time, though, they were approval letters. Whew. I can now breathe again.
Tomorrow A&R will get their first round of Synagis along with their second flu shot, and we will be able to relax a little. We will still be strict with hand washing and visitors, but we will be able to feel somewhat normal and not completely on edge all the time. While Synagis can aid in protecting a child from RSV, it is not a guarantee and so we still have to be really careful.