Doctors' Views

Rotavirus Vaccination ... Postponed as a Precaution

There have been many erroneous rumors about the rotavirus vaccine. MedicineNet strongly recommends that all children (and adults) be fully immunized according to the current government health recommendations. We wish, therefore, to share with you the words as they came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the rotavirus vaccine.

On July 15-16, 1999 the CDC issued a statement about rotavirus vaccination. The following is the CDC statement verbatim (word-for- word).

The CDC Statement about Rotavirus Vaccine

"Overall Message:

Based on early surveillance reports of bowel obstructions among some infants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that health care practitioners and parents postpone use of the rotavirus vaccine until November 1999.

As of June 1, 1999, an estimated 1.5 million doses of RRV-TV (rotavirus vaccine) have been administered to children in the United States. As of July 7, 1999, fifteen (15) cases of intussusception (a type of bowel obstruction) among children who had recently received rotavirus vaccine have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). An additional eight cases have been identified in the initial phase of an on going multi-state investigation.

Although vaccine adverse event reports and preliminary surveillance data do not provide sufficient evidence to determine if there is a relationship between the vaccine and intussusception, the CDC recommendation is made with the consideration that rotavirus season is still 4 to 6 months away in most parts of the U.S. In the interim, the CDC in collaboration with local and state health departments throughout the United States will be undertaking additional data collection and analysis to determine if there is a relationship between the vaccine and intussusception.

Key Points - Rotavirus Illness and Infections

1. Rotavirus illness is very easy to catch. Children can spread rotavirus both before and after they become symptomatic. The virus is often transmitted from one infected child to another by contaminated hands or objects. Washing with soaps or cleansers will not kill the virus, but will help reduce the spread of rotavirus.

2. Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children in the U.S. Virtually all children contract a rotavirus infection in the first 3-5 years of life. In the U.S., rotavirus illness tends to be seasonal, with the greatest number of cases occurring from November to May.

3. Rotaviral gastroenteritis usually starts with fever, an upset stomach, and vomiting, followed by diarrhea. The diarrhea can be mild to severe and generally will last 3 to 9 days. Severe diarrhea and dehydration occur primarily among children 3 months to 35 months of age.