Why get vaccinated?
Rotavirus is a virus that causes diarrhea, mostly in babies and young children. The diarrhea can be severe, and lead to dehydration. Vomiting and fever are also common in babies with rotavirus.
Before rotavirus vaccine, rotavirus disease was a common and serious health problem for children in the United States. Almost all children in the U.S. had at least one rotavirus infection before their 5th birthday.
Every year before the vaccine was available:
- more than 400,000 young children had to see a doctor for illness caused by rotavirus,
- more than 200,000 had to go to the emergency room,
- 55,000 to 70,000 had to be hospitalized, and
- 20 to 60 died.
Since the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine, hospitalizations and emergency visits for rotavirus have dropped dramatically.
What are the risks from rotavirus vaccine?
With a vaccine, like any medicine, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own. Serious side effects are also possible, but are very rare.
Most babies who get rotavirus vaccine do not have any problems with it. But some problems have been associated with rotavirus vaccine:
Mild problems following rotavirus vaccine:
Babies might become irritable, or have mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting after getting a dose of rotavirus vaccine.
Severe problems following rotavirus vaccine:
Intussusception is a type of bowel blockage that is treated in a hospital, and could require surgery. It happens "naturally" in some babies every year in the United States, and usually there is no known reason for it.
There is also a small risk of intussusception from rotavirus vaccination, usually within a week after the 1st or 2nd vaccine dose. This additional risk is estimated to range from about 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000 U.S. infants who get rotavirus vaccine. Your doctor can give you more information.
Problems that could happen after any injected vaccine:
- Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at fewer than 1 in a million doses, and usually happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/. As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
How can I learn more?
- Ask your doctor. Your healthcare provider can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
- Call your local or state health department.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Call 1-800-232-4636 ( 1-800-CDC-INFO) or visit CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Rotavirus Vaccine Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program. 4/15/2015.