Rotavirus (cont.)

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Can rotavirus infection be prevented with a vaccine? Are any side effects associated with the rotavirus vaccine?

Because the virus is so prevalent, it is very difficult or even impossible to prevent rotavirus infection in unvaccinated people. Even places with excellent standards of hygiene and sanitation can become contaminated. Vaccination is the most effective preventive measure.

An older vaccine to prevent rotavirus was withdrawn due to adverse side effects. In August 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a live virus vaccine for use in children at ages 2, 4, and 6 months. However, this recommendation was withdrawn in October 1999 because the vaccine appeared to increase the risk of intussusception (the prolapse or telescoping of a portion of the intestine into the immediately adjacent portion of the intestine). The vaccine known as RotaShield was withdrawn from the market in 1999.

However, in February 2006, the FDA approved a different rotavirus vaccine. This vaccine RotaTeq is a live oral vaccine for use in children. Three doses of the rotavirus vaccine are recommended at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Another vaccine, Rotarix, was approved by the FDA in 2008. Rotarix is another oral vaccine against rotavirus bowel infection (gastroenteritis). Two doses of Rotarix are recommended, at ages 2 and 4 months. Both vaccines are very effective at preventing rotavirus infection, but they will not prevent episodes of diarrhea and vomiting caused by other viruses.

Medically reveiwed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease


Nguyen, David D. "Rotavirus." May 22, 2012. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "About Rotavirus." Oct. 28, 2012. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/5/2014

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