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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Rotavirus (RV) Vaccine


How Effective Is the Rotavirus Vaccine?

Studies of the rotavirus vaccine have shown that it can prevent about 74% of rotavirus infections. More importantly, it can prevent approximately 98% of severe infections and 96% of hospitalizations from rotavirus. In one Massachusetts hospital, in two years, the number of people with rotavirus dropped from 65 to three.

Is the Rotavirus Vaccine Safe?

Before being approved, the rotavirus vaccine was tested on more than 70,000 children and found to be safe. However, an earlier vaccine, called RotaShield, was removed from the market after being used for two years, because it was found to slightly increase the risk of intussusception -- a condition in which the small bowel folds back inside another part of the intestine, causing a bowel obstruction.

The RotaTeq and Rotarix vaccines now in use do not appear to increase this risk and are considered safe.

Are There Some Children Who Shouldn't Have the Rotavirus Vaccine?

Any child who has had a severe allergic reaction to an earlier dose of the rotavirus vaccine should not be given any more doses of the vaccine. If your baby has a moderate or severe illness at the time the vaccination is scheduled, wait until the baby has recovered before being vaccinated. Also, the CDC recommends that you check with your doctor if your baby's immune system has been weakened. Things that could compromise the immune system include:

  • Exposure to HIV/AIDS or any other disease that involves the immune system
  • Treatment with long-term steroids
  • Cancer or cancer treatment with X-rays or drugs

What Are the Side Effects of the Rotavirus Vaccine?

With any vaccine there is chance of a serious allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction can include:

However, with the rotavirus vaccine, the risk of a serious reaction is extremely small.

Most children who get the vaccine have no problem at all. However, there is a slight chance your child may have temporary, mild effects following the vaccine including:

  • Increased irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on May 24, 2014
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