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Rotavirus Vaccine

1. 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:

Rotavirus vaccine has been used since 2006 in the United States. Because children are protected by the vaccine, hospitalizations, and emergency visits for rotavirus have dropped dramatically.

2. Rotavirus vaccine

Two brands of rotavirus vaccine are available. Your baby will get either 2 or 3 doses, depending on which vaccine is used.

Doses of rotavirus vaccine are recommended at these ages:

Rotavirus vaccine is a liquid that is swallowed, not a shot.

Rotavirus vaccine may safely be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Rotavirus vaccine is very good at preventing diarrhea and vomiting caused by rotavirus. Almost all babies who get rotavirus vaccine will be protected from severe rotavirus diarrhea. And most of these babies will not get rotavirus diarrhea at all. The vaccine will not prevent diarrhea or vomiting caused by other germs.

Another virus called porcine circovirus (or parts of it) can be found in both rotavirus vaccines. This is not a virus that infects people, and there is no known safety risk. For more information, see www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm205547.htm.

3. Some babies should not get this vaccine

Tell your doctor if your baby has any severe allergies that you know of, including a severe allergy to latex.

4. Risks of a vaccine reaction

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

Babies might become irritable, or have mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting after getting a dose of rotavirus vaccine.

Serious problems

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 U.S. infants to 1 in 100,000 U.S. infants who get rotavirus vaccine. Your doctor can give you more information.

5. What if there is a serious reaction?

What should I look for?

What should I do?

VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.

6. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.

Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.

7. How can I learn more? Ask your doctor.


Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Last updated May 8, 2015.