Rotavirus Vaccine Reduces Hospitalizations

CDC found both rotavirus vaccines, Rotarix and RotaTeq, to be safe and effective
young boy drinking from a sippy cup

Researchers from the Centers of Disease and Control (CDC) published a study that indicates that rotavirus vaccines have substantially decreased children hospitalizations.

Rotavirus is a virus that spreads easily among infants and young children.  It has been associated with approximately 40% of childhood hospitalizations for diarrhea and vomiting.

The median reduction in hospitalizations for acute gastroenteritis was 38%.

In the future, CDC officials noted they hope to find information about the rotavirus vaccine's impact on those who have not been vaccinated. Most vaccines have effects that extend far beyond the vaccinated population and this one should be no exception.

The rotavirus virus can cause severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Children who get rotavirus disease can become dehydrated and may need to be hospitalized.

Rotavirus vaccine is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus illness. Most children (about 9 out of 10) who get the vaccine will be protected from severe rotavirus illness.

RotaTeq™ (Merck) and Rotarix™ (GlaxoSmithKline) vaccines, developed to prevent rotavirus diarrhea in children under five years old, were both introduced into national immunization programs in 2006.

These rotavirus vaccines are currently licensed for use in infants in the United States:

  • RotaTeq® (RV5) is given in 3 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months
  • Rotarix® (RV1) is given in 2 doses at ages 2 months and 4 months
  • Both vaccines are given by mouth (orally), not by a shot.

The first dose of either vaccine is most effective if it is given before a child is 15 weeks of age. Also, children should receive all doses of rotavirus vaccine before they turn 8 months old.

Rotavirus vaccine can be administered with the DTaP vaccine, Hib vaccine, IPV, hepatitis B vaccine, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

The CDC reports that the rotavirus vaccine does not interfere with the immune response to these vaccines. The infant's immune response to influenza vaccine administered at the same time as rotavirus vaccine has not been studied.

However, ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) has recommended previously that an inactivated vaccine (e.g., inactivated influenza vaccine) may be administered either simultaneously or at any time before or after a different inactivated vaccine or live vaccine (e.g., rotavirus vaccine).

A vaccine, like any medicine, can have side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own. Serious side effects are also possible but rare.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information.