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Rotavirus Immunizations

Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) among children worldwide. The rotavirus vaccine currently licensed in the United States, Rotateq, has shown to be quite effective against rotavirus disease. This vaccine will prevent 74 percent of all rotavirus cases, about 98 percent of severe cases and about 96 percent of hospitalizations due to rotavirus.

Who should receive the vaccine and when?

There are two brands of rotavirus vaccine. A baby should get either two or three doses, depending on which brand is used.

The doses are recommended at these ages:

  • First Dose: two months of age 
  • Second Dose: four months of age 
  • Third Dose: six months of age (if needed)

The first dose may be given as early as six weeks of age, and should be given by age 14 weeks six days. The last dose should be given by eight months of age.

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

Who shouldn't receive the vaccine?

Some babies should not get rotavirus vaccine or should wait.

A baby who has had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a dose of rotavirus vaccine should not get another dose. A baby who has a severe (life threatening) allergy to any component of rotavirus vaccine should not get the vaccine. Tell your doctor if your baby has any severe allergies that you know of, including a severe allergy to latex.

Babies who are moderately or severely ill at the time the vaccination is scheduled should probably wait until they recover. This includes babies who have moderate or severe diarrhea or vomiting. Ask your doctor or nurse. Babies with mild illnesses should usually get the vaccine.

Check with your doctor if your baby's immune system is weakened because of: 

  • HIV/AIDS, or any other disease that affects the immune system 
  • treatment with drugs such as long-term steroids 
  • cancer, or cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs

What are the risks from the rotavirus vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of rotavirus vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Most babies who get rotavirus vaccine do not have any problems with it.

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