Doctors recommend the rotavirus vaccine for infants to boost their immunity within the first 15 weeks.

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Rotavirus is a contagious infection that causes diarrhea in children. A person gets rotavirus when particles of the virus enter the mouth.

The rotavirus is a type of virus that causes a gastrointestinal infection that affects children under the age of 5. Rotavirus can cause symptoms such as:

This article explores the rotavirus vaccine, including its benefits, the immunization schedule, side effects, precautions, and when to contact a doctor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rotavirus was the most common cause of diarrhea among infants and younger children before scientists introduced the rotavirus vaccine in 2006.

The rotavirus vaccine contains a weakened version of the rotavirus. By taking the vaccine, the healthcare professional introduces a less severe form of the virus into the child’s system to boost their immunity. This prevents their body from developing an inflammatory response on subsequent contacts.

Medical experts recommend getting the rotavirus vaccine as the best way to protect a child against rotavirus infection.

Before the vaccine, the CDC reports the following yearly statistics among infants and younger children in the United States:

  • 400,000 doctor visits
  • 200,000 emergency room visits
  • 55,000-70,000 hospitalizations
  • 20-60 deaths

The rotavirus vaccine has significantly reduced the healthcare burden associated with rotavirus since the year 2006.

A report that assessed the benefits of the rotavirus vaccine across different countries of the world showed the following:

  • reduced diarrhea hospital admissions
  • reduced overall hospital admissions
  • decrease in diarrhea-related childhood deaths

The United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) notes that the rotavirus vaccine has significantly improved immunity and reduced the number of severe rotavirus infections and symptoms among children.

Additional reports by the CDC indicate that the rotavirus vaccine is safe and effective for babies. This includes:

  • protection from rotavirus
  • protection from rotavirus-related symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain
  • prevents the burden of disease

In the U.S., two rotavirus vaccines are FDA-approved for infants.

  • Rotarix: 2-dose series at age 2 and 4 months
  • RotaTeq: 3-dose series at ages 2, 4, and 6 months

If any dose in the series is either RotaTeq or unknown, default to the 3-dose series.

Doctors administer the vaccine orally by putting it directly in the baby’s mouth for them to swallow.

Side effects are usually rare and mild. Examples of some side effects of the vaccine may include:

  • fever
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • blocked intestine or intussusception
  • severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis

According to health experts, babies with the following conditions cannot get the rotavirus vaccine:

  • more than 15 weeks old and have not had a first dose
  • those with severe reactions after a first dose

However, a parent or caregiver should speak with the doctor if a child has a family history of:

  • fructose intolerance
  • glucose malabsorption
  • problems with the gastrointestinal tract

A person should contact the doctor right away if a child has the following symptoms after a rotavirus vaccine:

  • constant vomiting
  • frequent diarrhea for more than 24 hours
  • high body temperature
  • severe reaction

The rotavirus vaccine is a safe and effective immunization against the rotavirus. In the U.S., two vaccine brands have been approved for the rotavirus. Depending on the vaccine type, doctors recommend it to children between 2 and 6 months of age. Doctors can give the vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age.

The side effects of the rotavirus vaccine are usually mild. However, if a child has severe symptoms after getting the rotavirus vaccine, their parents or caregivers should contact the doctor immediately.