What is the Rotavirus Vaccine?
There are currently two rotavirus vaccines available for use in the United States, Rotateq® and Rotatrix®. 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 vaccine is typically administered to infants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the minimum age for dose 1 of rotavirus vaccine is 6 weeks; the maximum age for dose 1 is 14 weeks and 6 days. The CDC further states that vaccination should not be initiated for infants aged 15 weeks and 0 days or older because of insufficient data on safety of dose 1 of rotavirus vaccine in older infants. The minimum interval between doses of rotavirus vaccine is 4 weeks; no maximum interval is set. All doses should be administered by age 8 months and 0 days. Rotavirus vaccines are administered in either a 2 or 3-dose series, depending on the brand.