What Is Rotavirus Vaccine?
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Rotavirus Vaccine - Administration, Storage, Benefits, and Risks

Published on Jan 23, 2023 and last reviewed on May 10, 2023   -  4 min read


Rotavirus is a contagious virus that causes diarrhea and other intestinal problems. Read below to know more.


Rotavirus is an infection commonly found in children under five years of age. Children and young adults can also develop the infection. It is easily transmissible. The infection is present in the stool of an infected person and can remain for a long time. The virus can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Children suffering from this infection can get dehydrated. Maintaining good hygiene and cleanliness is important, but vaccination is also very important.

What Is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus was named the “rota” virus due to its wheel-like shape, which is visible under the electron microscope and belongs to the family Roeviridae. The only specific treatment available for the prevention of rotavirus is immunization. In serious cases, the children are at risk of dying from dehydration. More than 50,000 children under five years die from diarrheal disease each year. The animal-to-human transmission is rare. Many other species of domestic and wild animals, mammals, and birds can also get this infection.

How Is Rotavirus Transmitted?

The virus responsible for causing rotavirus is found in stool and transmitted through hand and mouth contact. One could develop the infection if the hand touches a person or object carrying a virus. It is most commonly spread from not washing hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. The infection can last ten days in stool after the symptoms disappear. During the first episode of rotavirus infection, rotavirus is shed in high concentration in the stools and through vomiting. As the infection appears in early childhood, most people develop immunity against the disease.

What Are the Vaccines Available?

There are two vaccines available, and they are licensed for use. The rotavirus vaccines available are

  • RotaTeq (RV5) is given in three doses at two months, four months, and six months of age. RotaTeq has been approved for use since 2006. This vaccine is made from a rotavirus strain originally isolated from the calf.

  • Rotarix vaccine (RV1) is usually given twice at two months and four months of age. Rotarix has been approved for use since 2008. Rotarix is made from one of the types of rotavirus originally isolated from a person and weakened in the laboratory.

  • Rotavac (ORV116E) is a live attenuated vaccine that contains a suspension of rotavirus 116E.

  • Rotasiil (RV5) is a live attenuated, oral freeze-dried vaccine containing five viruses.

How Is the Vaccine Stored?

The rotavirus vaccine should be stored at refrigerator temperature. Rotavirus vaccine should be stored at -15 degrees to -25 degrees. The vaccine should be transported in cold boxes and conditioned ice packs.

Who Should Get Rotavirus Vaccine?

  • The child should receive all the doses of the rotavirus vaccine before the child turns eight months old, and the first dose should be given before the child is 15 percent weeks of age.

  • Orally the vaccine is given as a drop in an infant's mouth.

  • This vaccine should not be injected.

Who Should Not Get the Rotavirus Vaccine?

Infants should avoid the rotavirus vaccine if they have the following:

  • History of severe allergic reaction to the previous dose of rotavirus vaccine.

  • Allergic to any component of the rotavirus vaccine.

  • Immunocompromised child.

  • The child has had a previous episode of intussusception.

  • Any systemic disorder like human immunodeficiency syndrome.

  • Undergoing any treatment which involves drugs like steroids.

  • Undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

When Should Someone Speak With Their Healthcare Provider?

Before taking vaccines, one should discuss the benefits and risks with the healthcare provider. Talk with the healthcare provider if:

  • The child has a weak immune system.

  • A child has intussusception, which is a type of bowel blockage.

  • A person is allergic to the previous dose of the rotavirus vaccine or its components.

  • Infants or children who are moderate to severely ill should wait until they recover before getting the rotavirus vaccine.

  • If the child is on any medications.

  • Any other concerns about vaccination or any other health problems.

What Are the Risks and Side Effects of the Rotavirus Vaccine?

The risks of the rotavirus vaccine are:

  • Irritation, mild and temporary diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, and paleness can happen after rotavirus vaccination.

  • There is a risk of intussusception after the rotavirus vaccination, which happens within a week after the first or second dose. The signs of intussusception are stomach pain with crying, blood in stools, and vomiting. Contact your healthcare provider if you think the child has signs of intussusception.

  • Any allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate, weakness, or dizziness, can occur after the vaccination.

How Effective Is the Rotavirus Vaccine?

The rotavirus vaccines are most effective in preventing life-threatening and most serious cases of rotavirus diarrhea. The vaccines available are Rotarix and RotaTeq. Large clinical trials were carried out, and the vaccines were found to be effective and safe. The clinal trials involved thousands of infants. The infants were protected from rotavirus illness that caused fever, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, and changes in their behavior of the child. Earlier, the children were hospitalized after they suffered from the rotavirus vaccine before the vaccine was available.

How Cost-Effective Is the Vaccine?

The rotavirus vaccination helps people avoid the unnecessary and ineffective use of antibiotics often prescribed for rotavirus infection. According to the study, the rotavirus vaccination has proved cost-effective, particularly in low and lower-middle-income countries with high child mortality.


Vaccines are considered beneficial and safe and have prevented thousands of children from developing rotavirus yearly. The efficacy of the rotavirus vaccine ranges between forty to sixty percent.

Last reviewed at:
10 May 2023  -  4 min read




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