EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new vaccine may be able to help protect against a virus affecting young children.

If approved, Pfizer’s maternal RSV vaccine candidate could be the first vaccine available to help prevent this potentially life-threatening respiratory illness in young infants.

Pfizer’s vaccine contains the virus’ F-protein, the site that it uses to attach to human cells. When it was given to pregnant women in trials, it was almost 82% effective in preventing severe RSV in newborns to 3 months old. It was also almost 70% effective in children through six months of age.

Three-month-old Cooper Wachter is in the intensive care unit of a Minnesota hospital with RSV. His mother Shannon Wachter said if the vaccine was available now, she would have considered it for her child.

“Now with a nationwide thing happening, I would say that I most definitely would have if I could,” Wachter said. “Looking back at it, I mean, anything to not let our little boy suffer as much as he has.”

Pfizer hopes to have its vaccine approved by the end of the year, but it would likely not be available to the public before next fall. 

Dr. Melanie Kitagawa, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital, said she is optimistic about this vaccine. 

“As a pediatrician, we haven’t had any treatment for RSV my whole career and way before then,” Dr. Kitagawa said. “So we would be hopeful that if there are options for treatment, that’s huge for kids.” 

Most children can fight this off with over-the-counter medication.

Symptoms of RSV infection usually include runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing. Parents that have kids that are showing these cold-like symptoms should make sure they are getting lots of rest and fluids.