Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Font Size

A Parent's Guide to Kids' Vaccines



Rotavirus Vaccine, Live, Oral, Pentavalent

What it's for: Prevents gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus infection in children. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea, vomiting, and fever in infants and young children in the United States and worldwide. Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting due to rotavirus infection can lead to the loss of body fluids (dehydration) and for approximately 55,000 U.S. children each year becomes severe enough to require hospitalization. Without the vaccine, rotavirus infects over 95% of children in the United States by their 5th birthday. Currently licensed vaccine is a liquid that is given by mouth to infants in a series of three doses between the ages of 6 and 32 weeks.

Common side effects: Diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, runny nose and sore throat, wheezing or coughing, and ear infection.

Tell your health care provider beforehand if: Your child has a weakened or compromised immune system, is allergic to any of the ingredients of the vaccine, or has ever had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.


Varicella Virus Vaccine Live

What it's for: Protects (immunizes) against chickenpox, which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox usually causes headache, fever, and an itchy rash that can turn into blisters, and can occasionally cause more serious complications such as skin infection, scarring, pneumonia, brain swelling, Reye's syndrome, and death. Severe disease and more serious complications are more likely to occur in adolescents and adults. Currently licensed for individuals 12 months of age and older.

Common side effects: Soreness, pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fever, mild rash, and irritability. Less common side effects include tingling of the skin and shingles.

Tell your health care provider beforehand if: The individual is moderately or severely ill or has chronic medical problems that may weaken the immune system, has received a blood or plasma transfusion or immune globulin within the last 5 months, takes medicines, has allergies including any life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or a previous dose of chickenpox or any other vaccine, is pregnant or plans to become pregnant within the next three months, or is breast feeding. Important to note: This is a live vaccine, so people with a weakened immune system should not get this vaccine. Also, once vaccinated, the individual should avoid contact with individuals who have a weakened immune system, pregnant women who never had chickenpox, and newborn babies whose mothers never had chickenpox for at least 6 weeks. The individual should tell the health care provider if they expect to have contact with individuals who fall in one of these groups.


For more information about topics for your health, visit the FDA Consumer Information Center (  

Return to the Protect Your Health Homepage 


WebMD Public Information from the FDA