Rotavirus Vaccine

What is the Rotavirus Vaccine?

There are currently two rotavirus vaccines available for use in the United States, RotaTeq® and Rotarix®.  They are designed to eliminate severe gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus infection.  It is not a mandatory childhood vaccination.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe acute gastroenteritis in children.  Symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and decreased urination.  In some circumstances, these symptoms can also lead to dehydration.

Rotavirus disease is highly contagious.  It is present in the stool of an infected person.  It can also remain viable on contaminated surfaces for a long period of time.  Rotavirus is often transmitted when a child touches something that is contaminated with rotavirus and then puts their hands in their mouth.  Unfortunately, rotavirus infections spread easily in hospitals and day care settings from child to child.  Older children and adults can also suffer the virus, but the illness is generally milder.

Who should receive the Rotavirus vaccine?

The rotavirus vaccination is typically administered to infants.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first dose of rotavirus vaccine should be given before a child is 15 weeks of age. Children should receive all doses of rotavirus vaccine before they turn 8 months of age.  Rotavirus vaccines are administered in either a 2 or 3-dose series, depending on the brand.