Rotavirus Vaccine – How does it work?

By | Last Updated: 22nd June 2019 | This post may contain Affiliate Links

It’s important to get the Rotavirus Vaccine, as this is a ‘highly’ infectious bug, which can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, a fever, and stomach aches. Rotavirus is common in infants and young children.

If a child gets infected with Rotavirus around 1 in 5 will need to see their doctor and 1 in 10 typically need a hospital visit due to complications such as dehydration.

As you can see having the Rotavirus vaccination can be beneficial. Since it was ‘introduced’ by the NHS in 2013, cases are down by about 70%. Apart from the UK, the vaccine is also given to children and infants in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

What is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a ‘common’ diarrhoea disease, which usually affects young children and infants. Typically the infection is spread through the fecal-oral route, it tends to target and damage cells that line the small intestine.

Diagnosis of Rotavirus usually includes ‘gastroenteritis’ as the main cause of severe diarrhoea. In Britain most children who are admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis are tested for Rotavirus as standard.

The virus is so contiguous that nearly every child in the world is infected at some point before the age of five. Even though Rotavirus can be easily managed in the developed world, the infection causes around 37% of deaths of children from diarrhoea and over 200,000 deaths worldwide every year.

In addition to these statistics around two million children become seriously ill because of the infection. While most of these deaths occur in the ‘developing world’, it’s easy to see how infectious this disease is.

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How does the Rotavirus Vaccination Work?

In Britain the ‘brand name’ for the Rotavirus vaccine is called ‘Rotarix’.

This is a ‘routine’ vaccination given in two doses for babies aged between 8 and 12 weeks, alongside other schedule childhood vaccinations. The Rotavirus Vaccine is ‘administrated’ with a liquid straight into the baby’s mouth for them to swallow.

This liquid contains a weak version of the Rotavirus, so the body is able to build up antibodies and natural immunity against the infection.

According to the NHS, they claim the Rotavirus Vaccine is ‘safe’. They state, “Rotarix has been used extensively in many countries, including Belgium, Finland, Austria and Canada, for 5 to 6 years and no safety concerns have been raised.”

Side Effects of the Rotavirus Vaccine

Just like most vaccinations, there can be some side effects. Typically, the majority of babies will not have any issues after having the Rotavirus Vaccine, they can sometimes be ‘restless’ and ‘irritable’ and may develop mild diarrhoea. However, this should pass within a couple of days.

Sometimes ‘rare’ side effects can occur, these can include:

Blocked Intestine – This affects around 2 in every 100,000 babies who are vaccinated. The rotavirus vaccination can affect a babies ‘lower gut’ and from this they may develop a rare gut disorder called ‘intussusception’. This basically causes a blockage in the intestine. The main symptoms are vomiting, tummy ache and passing what ‘looks’ like redcurrant jelly in their nappy.

Allergic Reaction – The NHS state around 1 in a million vaccines may include a allergic reaction called ‘anaphylaxis’. If this occurs it’s regarded as a medical emergency and usually happens within minutes. Generally speaking, it tends to occur when the vaccine is given so the reaction and treatment of the Nurse or Doctor means children completely recover after treatment.

If any of the above symptoms develop or you feel something is wrong, contact your Doctor, NHS 111 or 999 in an emergency.

Please remember that this website is a ‘general guide’ – in no way does it constitute professional medical advice. Please speak to a healthcare professional for proper assistance, treatment and diagnosis. The Internet should never ‘substitute’ professional medical guidance.

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