Updated
September 3rd, 2019

Rotavirus Vaccinations Create ‘Herd-Immunity’

Rotarix and RotaTeq vaccines prevent diarrhea in children, related deaths and reduces healthcare costs

kids running in a track meet

The direct effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination in children has been evaluated extensively, however, until this new study, the population-level, vaccine effectiveness (VE) was not well understood. 

This new study found children less than 5 years of age had the largest declines in hospitalizations with direct VE of 87 percent. 

The overall VE against hospitalizations for all ages combined was 69 percent. 

And, substantial indirect effects were observed across age groups but generally declined in each older group. 

Most interesting, this study reported rotavirus vaccine benefits extended to unvaccinated individuals in all age groups. 

This study suggested infants are important drivers of disease transmission across the population. 

Which means, rotavirus vaccinations have a multiplier effect. As more children get vaccinated, they prevent the spread of rotavirus to other children and to adults. 

This multiplier effect is a form of ‘herd immunity’.  

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Rotavirus is so common that it’s the cause of most cases of diarrhea for young children in the world today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in children under 5, and an estimated 39 percent of these deaths are attributable to rotavirus.   

It is a highly contagious viral infection that inflames the lining of the stomach and intestines and especially affects children 2 years old and younger. 

In the United States, the introduction of a vaccine in 2006 helped arrest rotavirus illnesses and deaths. Before the vaccine, rotavirus caused more than 200,000 emergency department visits and as many as 60 deaths of young children each year, the CDC says. 

Rotavirus vaccines are very effective at preventing rotavirus disease. Children should get either of the two available rotavirus vaccines:

  • RotaTeq® (RV5) is given in 3 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months,
  • Rotarix® (RV1) is given in 2 doses at ages 2 months and 4 months.

Recent rotavirus vaccine news:

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.