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Rota virus vaccine

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Rotavirus appears like a wheel under the microscope, hence the name. The rotavirus is a lethal virus, that can lead to acute diarrhea and vomiting in infants and toddlers. In order to save children from the viral infection, two vaccines against rotavirus were introduced.

Until the vaccine was introduced in the United States, Rota virus was responsible for spreading severe gastroenteritis involving profuse vomiting and diarrhea, high fever, abdominal cramps and dehydration in babies and young children, which even lead to death of many due to the deadly strain ofRota virus A.

Types of rotavirus vaccine

There are two licensed rotavirus vaccines in the United States: RotaTeqand Rotarix. The vaccines were introduced in the year 2006 by leading pharmaceutical companies Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, respectively.Both are live attenuated forms of the vaccine.

Who should get the rotavirus vaccine?

Rotavirus vaccination is only recommended for babies between 2- 6 months of age.

Who should not get rotavirus vaccine?

There are strict restrictions laid before using the vaccine. It is not given to babies falling under the category described below:

  • Babies younger than 6 weeks or older than 8 months
  • Babies born with sickle cell anemia or any other congenital diseases.
  • Babies born with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) syndrome, HIV infections, etc.
  • If your baby is allergic to any component of the vaccine or had an allergy in the previous dose.
  • Is allergic to latex
  • Babies with a  history of intussusceptions or who succumbed to the conditionswith a previous dose of Rota virus vaccine

You must let your doctor know, if your baby is ill (including fever) or undergoing any other medical treatments. In that case, the vaccine might be postponed or avoided.

What is the dose of the vaccine?

The dosage has been determined as follows.

  • RotaTeq- 3 doses are given at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months.
  • Rotarix- 2 doses are administered at 2 months and 4 months of age

How is the vaccine administered?

The vaccine is given orally, in the form of a liquid suspension. Babies are vaccinated with Rota virus vaccine as a part of their routine immunization program.

Are there any side effects of Rota virus vaccine?

The vaccines are safe for babies. The side effects are very rare. Some cases have been reported where babies have suffered from irritation, mild vomiting and diarrhea after being vaccinated.

The introduction vaccine RotaShield had led to bowel obstruction or intussusception in many babies, which is why it was discontinued. However, the current versions, i.e. RotaTeq and Rotarix have been clinically proven to be safe and effective.

How effective is rotavirus vaccine?

It is important to note that rotavirus vaccine offers protection against diarrhea and vomiting caused only by rotavirus and no other types of germs, microbes or contaminants. As per studies, the Rota virus vaccine is 74% effective and has drastically reduced rate of hospitalization of babies with Rota virus infection in the United States.

Rotavirus spreads easily through infected hands, diapers or other objects such as toys, doorknobs, and even changing mats. The virus is present in the stool of infected people and can easily spread in families, childcare center, etc. Even if you use the best disinfectant to clean your house, the virus will continue to live for several days. Thus, it is better to protect your child with the help of rotavirus vaccine, that will, in some cases, save a young life.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 12, 2015

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