Vaccines help your body make chemicals
antibodies to fight off a
virus. This vaccine is given as pills (orally).
Rotaviruses are a common infection in
children in Canada. Infection with a rotavirus usually causes stomach upset,
vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes fever. Diarrhea, especially when it occurs
along with vomiting, can quickly lead to
dehydration in babies and young children who have
rotavirus. Dehydration occurs when the body loses water more quickly than it is
replaced. When you become dehydrated, you can develop severe health problems.
Babies and young children can become dehydrated very quickly.
rotavirus vaccine is recommended for children younger than 32 weeks of age. Children
should get 2 or 3 doses, at least 4 weeks apart. Vaccination usually starts at around 6 to 14 weeks, with another dose at around 4 months and 6 months of age (if needed).
The rotavirus vaccine protects about
98% of children from getting severe diarrhea caused by rotavirus. About 74% of
children who get the vaccine do not get rotavirus diarrhea at all.footnote 1
Side effects of the rotavirus vaccine are
usually minor but may include:
serious allergic reactions are rare with this vaccine,
call your doctor or local health unit right away if your child has trouble
breathing, a high fever, or anything unusual after taking the vaccine.
A child who had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the
rotavirus vaccine should not get another dose of this vaccine. Tell your doctor
or nurse if your child has had a severe reaction to any vaccine or has severe
There is a small risk of intussusception from the rotavirus vaccination in the week after getting the first or second dose of the vaccine. Intussusception is a serious blockage of the intestine that must be treated in the hospital. It occurs in about 1 or 2 cases per 100,000 babies who get the vaccine.
Another rotavirus vaccine (Rotashield) was approved for
use in the United States in 1998, but it was removed from the market within a
year because of increased risk of serious intestinal problems in children who
received the vaccine. This earlier vaccine was never approved for use in
Canada, and public health experts are closely watching the current vaccines to make sure they are safe.
See Drug Reference for a full
list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Although the rotavirus vaccine is
recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the cost
of the vaccine is not currently covered under provincial health plans.
Rotavirus vaccine is not recommended for children older than 32 weeks.
Children who receive the vaccine should have the final dose in the
series at around 24 weeks (6 months) of age or earlier.
Rotavirus vaccine will not prevent
vomiting and diarrhea (gastroenteritis) caused by other germs.
In Canada, about 1 in 5 cases of gastroenteritis are caused by
Outbreaks of rotavirus
usually occur in the winter and early spring, between about November and April.
During these months, about 7 in 10 hospital visits for diarrhea in children age
6 to 24 months are due to rotavirus infection.footnote 1
Rotavirus infections often spread in settings where many children are
together, such as daycare centres. Almost all children in Canada and the United
States are infected with rotavirus by age 5.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
National Advisory Committee on Immunization (2008). Statement on the recommended use of pentavalent human-bovine reassortant rotavirus vaccine. Canada Communicable Disease Report, 34(ACS-1): 1–33.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsBrian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerWilliam Atkinson, MD, MPH - Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & William Atkinson, MD, MPH - & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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