HOME HOME   |   ABOUT   |   CONTACT US    |   EMAIL UPDATES   |   Español    

Vaccines to Prevent Rotavirus

Vaccine Basics

Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and severe diarrhea) among children worldwide. Two different rotavirus vaccines are currently licensed for use in infants in the United States. The vaccines are RotaTeq® (RV5) and Rotarix® (RV1). Before being licensed, both vaccines were tested in clinical trials and shown to be safe and effective. Both vaccines are oral (taken by mouth and swallowed), not a shot.

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: 2 months of age
  • Second Dose: 4 months of age
  • Third Dose: 6 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 6 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. Babies who get the vaccine may be fed normally afterward.

About Rotavirus

What is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). The rotavirus disease causes severe watery diarrhea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. In babies and young children, it can lead to dehydration (loss of body fluids). Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide. Globally, it causes more than a half a million deaths each year in children younger than five years of age.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated children may develop rotavirus disease more than once because there are many different types of rotavirus and because neither vaccine nor natural infection provides full immunity (protection) from future infections. Usually a person’s first infection with rotavirus causes the most severe symptoms.

Who gets Rotavirus?

Rotavirus disease is most common in infants and young children, but adults and older children can also become infected with rotavirus. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide. Globally, it causes more than a half a million deaths each year in children younger than five years of age. Rotavirus was the leading cause of severe diarrhea in U.S. infants and young children before 2006 when rotavirus vaccine was introduced for infants in the United States.

Prior to that, almost all children in the United States were infected with rotavirus before their 5th birthday. Each year in the United States in the pre-vaccine period, rotavirus was responsible for more than 400,000 doctor visits; more than 200,000 emergency room visits; 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations; and 20 to 60 deaths in children younger than five years of age.

 

Once a person has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about two days for symptoms to appear.

Symptoms include:

  •  Fever
  •  Vomiting
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Abdominal pain
  •  Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
  •  Feeling run down, achy (malaise)
  •  Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots)

Additional symptoms include loss of appetite and dehydration (loss of body fluids), which can be especially harmful for infants and young children.

 
Take Action

Ready to get vaccinated?

 
 

Microscopic view of rotavirus.

 

Read more about rotavirus vaccines:

Going to get vaccinated: