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by McCoy K

What Is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a virus that is transmitted through stool. It is easily spread by contaminated hands and objects.

It causes severe watery diarrhea and vomiting in infants and young children. In some children, this can lead to dehydration and even death.

What Is the Rotavirus Vaccine?

The rotavirus vaccine is given by mouth. It is made of a live, weakened form of the virus. The vaccine works by causing the body to produce its own protection against the virus.

There are two brands of the vaccine:

  • RotaTeq
  • Rotarix

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

The vaccine is given to babies in 2 to 3 doses. The number of doses depends on which vaccine is used. The recommended schedule for giving these doses is:

  • 2 months for first dose
  • 4 months for second dose
  • 6 months for third dose, if needed

This vaccine is not given to older children or adults.

What Are the Risks Associated With the Rotavirus Vaccine?

Most infants get the vaccine without any problems. Some children may have common side effects, such as mild diarrhea or vomiting.

As with any vaccine, there is a small risk of a severe allergic reaction or death.

There is also a very small risk of a serious bowel obstruction called intussusception .

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

Children should not get the vaccine if they:

  • Have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine
  • Have problems with the way their immune system works
  • Have had intussusception

Children who are moderately or severely ill should wait to get the vaccine.

What Other Ways Can Rotavirus Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

The risk of rotavirus can be lowered by practicing proper hand hygiene.

What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

Frequent hand washing and washing of surfaces is recommended to keep the virus from spreading. Dirty linens and clothes should be handled as little as possible. These items should be laundered with detergent and machine-dried.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

National Network for Immunization Information  http://www.immunizationinfo.org 

Vaccines & Immunizations Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  http://www.cdc.gov 

References

Rotavirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/rotavirus. Accessed September 7, 2021.

Rotavirus gastroenteritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/rotavirus-gastroenteritis. Accessed September 7, 2021.

Rotavirus vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/rotavirus/default.htm. Accessed September 7, 2021.

Rotavirus vaccine live. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/rotavirus-vaccine-live. Accessed September 7, 2021.

Rotavirus VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/rotavirus.html. Accessed September 7, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kuenn, MD
  • Review Date: 07/2021
  • Update Date: 09/07/2021