What is Rotavirus?
Rotavirus is a virus that cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines resulting in gastroenteritis. It is more common among infants and younger children who will develop more severe symptoms. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, abdomen pain, diarrhoea and possible dehydration secondary to diarrhoea.
Rotavirus is a serious cause of severe diarrhoea in young infants. Rotavirus vaccination reduces the incidence and severity of the disease.
There are two brands of rotavirus vaccine in the market now:
1. RotaTeq® (RV5) is given in 3 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months
2. Rotarix® (RV1) is given in 2 doses at ages 2 months and 4 months.
The vaccines are oral vaccines that are not to be injected. The first dose is best given before 15 weeks of age. all children should complete the vaccination series before age 8 . The vaccine can be given together with other vaccinations.
Do note that the vaccine will not prevent vomiting and diarrhoea from other germs.
Contraindications to rotavirus vaccine
1. Babies with severe allergy to rotavirus vaccine should not get vaccinated
2. Babies with intussusception should not get vaccinated.
3. Babies with severe combined immunodeficiency should not be vaccinated.
4. Babies who are currently moderately ill with fever, vomiting and diarrhoea should only get vaccinated when they are recovered.
5. Babies with immune-deficiency like HIV, on long term steroids and on anti-cancer treatments should not get vaccinated.
Possible side effects of the rotavirus vaccine
1. Minor side effects like irritability, mild diarrhoea and vomiting may occur in some babies. These are usually mild symptoms which will resolve on its own.
2. Severe side effects like intussusception is very rare with incidence of 1 in every 20,000 infants to 1 in every 100,000 infants after vaccination. It usually within a week after the 1st or 2nd vaccine dose.
3. Severe anaphylactic allergic reaction is very rare with a 1 in a million chance.