Rotavirus



Rotavirus can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea in children, which in small babies can lead to dehydration and might require a hospital stay. Babies born on or after the 1st October 2016 are given an oral (drops by mouth) rotavirus vaccine. Babies older than 8 months should not be given the vaccine because its safety in older infants has not yet been tested. Even babies who have had a rotavirus infection should be given the vaccine (when they have recovered) because they may not be immune to all the viruses that vaccination protects them against.

There are two vaccines available - Rotarix and RotaTeq. Rotarix is given as part of the childhood immunisation schedule in Ireland and is administered in 2 doses.

Very few children should not receive the rotavirus vaccine, but there are a few rare conditions that would prevent these babies from being vaccinated: a history of blocked gut (intussusception) or problems that may lead to a blocked gut, severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), or hereditary sugar intolerance (fructose intolerance, sucrose – maltase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption). The vaccine is always given orally and should never be injected.

Some babies will have mild diarrhoea after receiving the vaccine (about 1 in 10 babies). Less commonly, some babies might have some tummy pain or some inflamed skin (1 in 100). All of these symptoms will go away within a couple of days, but it's important to keep babies hydrated with lots of milk. Wash your hands well after changing your baby's nappy, and also avoid going swimming with your baby while they have diarrhoea.

Extremely rarely, babies can develop a blockage in their gut (caused by rotavirus vaccine in 1 of 50,000 vaccinations). This can also happen to babies naturally (about 1 in 1,500 babies in Ireland). The symptoms of a blocked gut are severe tummy pain, crying, a pale face, and possible vomiting and blood in their nappy. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Remember that the benefits of receiving vaccines that protect your child from serious diseases hugely outweigh any mild side effects from vaccination.

If you are concerned about your child, contact your doctor or local hospital for advice.

Allergies to substances within vaccines can occur, though they are very rare (they happen in fewer than 1 in 10,000 people receiving the vaccine). An allergic reaction to a vaccine would happen quickly - probably before you left the GP's surgery. Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchy skin, rash, shortness of breath and swelling of the face or tongue. Before getting the vaccination, speak to your doctor if your child has experienced any allergic reactions previously.

If you are concerned about your child, contact your doctor or local hospital for advice.

Rotarix was tested in 75,000 babies in several countries worldwide​, in 27 clinical trials. The studies looked at the effectiveness and safety of Rotarix in full-term and premature babies; the studies showed that Rotarix is safe and that it reduced severe gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) in babies.

Three placebo-controlled studies (some babies were given a placebo and some were given Rotarix) were performed in ​Finland, India and Bangladesh. These studies showed that reports of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea etc. were the same in both the placebo group and the group that received the Rotarix vaccine.

Rotateq was tested in 71,725 babies in 3 placebo-controlled clinical trials. The studies looked at the effectiveness and safety of Rotateq in full-term and premature babies; the studies showed that Rotateq is safe and that it reduced severe gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) in babies during the rotavirus 'season' (late autumn to early spring).

Information on rotavirus vaccination from the HSE (Ireland):
http://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/newschedule/VPDs/rotavirus/

Information on rotavirus vaccination from the NHS (UK):
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/rotavirus-vaccine.aspx

Information on rotavirus vaccination from the CDC (USA):
https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/rotavirus.html

Information on rotavirus from the World Health Organisation:
http://www.who.int/immunization/topics/rotavirus/en/

Recommendation of rotavirus vaccination by the World Health Organisation:
http://www.who.int/immunization/newsroom/newsstory_rotavirus_vaccines_immunization_programmes/en/

Rotarix vaccine Patient Information Leaflet:
http://www.medicines.ie/medicine/15019/PIL/Rotarix+oral+suspension+in+pre-filled+oral+applicator/

Rotarix vaccine Summary of Product Characteristics:
http://www.medicines.ie/medicine/15020/SPC/Rotarix+oral+suspension+in+pre-filled+oral+applicator/