ST. LOUIS – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert due to a shortage of the vaccine used to protect babies from the respiratory disease RSV.

Children’s hospitals across St. Louis County are preparing for a surge in admissions amid a shortage of the RSV vaccine.

RSV is highly contagious, so it’s important that young children get the vaccine, according to Dr. Kenneth Powell, a pharmacist at GreaterHealth Pharmacy & Wellness.

“Currently, there is a shortage of the two vaccines. You have a choice, but with the increased demand, that means inventory has shot all the way down,” Powell said. “They are trying to ramp up and get those sent out, but everybody has a waiting list.”

RSV mostly hits the respiratory system, especially young kids and people with weakened immune systems.

Health officials say cases of RSV are on the rise in parts of the country at the start of the cold and flu season.

“It’s very disheartening. You really can’t do much. To watch your patents wait. You have patients who want to get vaccinated, which is something we fight for every day as a health care worker and a pharmacist,” Powell said. “I want my patients to get vaccinated; something simple, so you don’t have to go in the hospital.”

Last week, the CDC urged pediatricians to ration the drug and prioritize infants at the highest risk of complications.