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Rotavirus is a disease that used to make thousands of babies and young children sick every year. Thanks to the rotavirus vaccine, the number of children who get sick with the disease in the United States has dropped.
The rotavirus vaccine is given orally, meaning your child will swallow it.
Rotavirus is a contagious disease — it spreads easily from child to child. Rotavirus can cause diarrhea (watery poop), which can lead to dehydration (not having enough water in the body). Children who get severe cases of rotavirus may need to be hospitalized.
The rotavirus vaccine protects 9 out of 10 children from getting severe illness caused by rotavirus.
The rotavirus vaccine is the best way to protect your child from rotavirus.
Rotavirus is caused by a virus, and it mostly affects babies and young children. Symptoms of rotavirus include:
Rotavirus spreads when a person comes in contact with the poop of someone who has rotavirus and then touches their own mouth. For example, rotavirus can spread when a child with rotavirus doesn’t wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches food or other objects.
All infants ages 2 through 6 months need to get the rotavirus vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule.
Children get 2 or 3 doses, depending on which brand of the rotavirus vaccine they get. They need a dose of the vaccine at the following ages:
Talk with your child’s doctor about how to protect them from rotavirus.
Some babies should not get the rotavirus vaccine, including babies who:
If your child is sick, they may need to wait until they’re better to get the rotavirus vaccine. And talk with your child’s doctor before your child gets the vaccine if your child:
Most babies who get the rotavirus vaccine don’t have any side effects. If it does cause side effects, they’re usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:
There’s also a small chance that the rotavirus vaccine can cause intussusception, a very rare disease that causes a blockage in the intestine. This happens in somewhere between 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000 babies who get the vaccine. Intussusception is treatable. But it can be deadly if it’s not treated.
Like any medicine, there’s a very small chance that the rotavirus vaccine could cause other serious reactions. Keep in mind that getting the rotavirus vaccine is much safer than getting rotavirus. Learn more about vaccine side effects.
Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) have detailed information about recommended vaccines.
Last reviewed: January 2018