Significant Decline in Rotavirus After Implementation of Vaccine
Mar 17, 2011

Anne Schuchat, MD, said too many children around the world die from this vaccine-preventable disease.

Have you ever suffered from severe diarrhea?  How about uncontrolled vomiting?  Have you ever been so dehydrated that you experienced headaches and muscle cramps?  Certainly if you’ve ever experienced these symptoms, you know how unpleasant it can be.  But the truth is, they can also be dangerous; especially when a child suffers in the same way. 
What you may not know is that diarrhea is one of the top two killers worldwide of children under the age of 5 and rotavirus, which is the most common cause of severe diarrheal disease in children, is mostly to blame.  Symptoms of rotavirus disease may include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and dehydration and rotavirus accounts for more than 500,000 deaths of children each year.  Add to that the number of children that are hospitalized because of rotavirus, and the numbers approach 120 million.     
Fortunately, in the United States, the death rate from rotavirus infections is much lower because of successful hospital treatment of the often severe vomiting and diarrhea. However, every year in the United States rotavirus is estimated to be responsible for up to 70,000 hospitalizations, approximately 250,000 emergency room visits among children younger than 5 years of age and 60 deaths.  So while we may live in a country where treatment and vaccines are more accessible than in other parts of the world, today’s good news is that researchers are seeing an encouraging trend in countries that have introduced the rotavirus vaccine for infant children.   
As detailed at Pediatric Supersite, twelve studies, published as a special supplement to The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, have noted a significant decline in deaths and hospitalizations after the implementation of routine rotavirus vaccination and their findings are highlighted below.   In each case, the figures are representative of children under the age of 5 years.

  • In El Salvador, rotavirus hospitalization rates declined by 81% after only 2 ½ years from the first introduction of the rotavirus vaccine. 
  • In Mexico, there was a 40% decline in the span of 2 years, with no declines a month in unvaccinated children. 
  • In Panama, there was a 94% decrease within 2 years. 
  • In Australia, there was a 94% reduction in rotavirus-related hospitalizations in 2 years. 
  • In the US, there was an 86% reduction in rotavirus detections in the 3 years after the vaccine was introduced. 

These figures, as well as comments from several professionals in the field, help illustrate the effectiveness of the vaccine and the direct impact that vaccine implementation has had on limiting the disease burden, both in the US and abroad.  

Catherine Yen, MD, MPH, in referencing the research in El Salvador, explained “When a new vaccine is introduced, it generally takes some time for vaccine compliance to rise to levels comparable to other well-established vaccines. Thus, vaccine compliance with rotavirus vaccine was not expected to have reached full coverage at the time these vaccine impact studies were completed. However, even at lower coverage levels, we were able to see a substantial positive impact of rotavirus vaccines on disease burden.”
John Wecker, PhD, director of the Vaccine Access and Delivery Global Program at PATH, said “Wherever we look, in both the developed and developing worlds, we see a rapid and impressive reduction in rotavirus infections following the roll-out of vaccine.”
Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said “These studies add to the growing body of evidence that shows rotavirus vaccines are safe, effective and, most importantly, saving children’s lives in a press release about the studies.  Unfortunately, too many children around the world get severely ill or die from this preventable disease. We must continue to expand our efforts to ensure that children around the world have access to these vaccines.”

Hopefully, these findings should help parents in their decision to vaccinate against rotavirus.  Why would we want our children to suffer when there is an effective vaccine that could help prevent it?

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10 responses to “Significant Decline in Rotavirus After Implementation of Vaccine”

  1. Janet says:

    Why would I give that contaminated shot to my child. I notice you don’t list how many children actually suffer from the same symptoms after getting the vaccine. HMMM, that seems odd that the very vaccine that is supposed to stop this can actually cause it and worse. How many babies ended up in emergency surgery because their intestines were turning in on themselves,(another side effect of this vaccine), not to mention the exposure to a pig virus.
    I would much rather take my chances with giving my son a healthy diet and making sure of good hygiene.

    • Chris says:

      It is an oral vaccine, not a shot. And trust me you do not want to deal with rotavirus. Multiple diapers could not contain the rivers of poo!
      And if you never want to be exposed to “pig virus” then don’t eat pork. If you fear ingesting any virus, I think you will end up starving to death because there are viruses all around us. You’ll get some on your nice organic carrots as you pull them out of the dirt with organic fertilizer. Personally I think bacon is quite yummy.
      Why don’t you tell us how many babies were hospitalized from RotaTeq and Rotarix. Be sure to have good documentation.

  2. Nicola says:

    “Hopefully, these findings should help parents in their decision to vaccinate against rotavirus. Why would we want our children to suffer when there is an effective vaccine that could help prevent it?”
    There is very effective treatment… it’s called breastmilk. Breastmilk clears diarrhea often overnight. It keeps children hydrated during sickness. Please can someone point me to some research that includes breastfeeding as the norm against what this rotavirus vaccine is tested upon. We really NEED to have answers to whether the kids involved in the vaccine programs were breastfed and whether breastfed children actaully get severe hospitalising diarrhea… In my studies so far I cannot find any reason to suggest that breastfed babies around the world would really need this vaccine. If we don’t get clear cut evidence on this I see that pushing this vaccine is useless and potentially dangerous. It may also undermine breastfeeding. How are we to know whether a reduction in diarrea is due to increasing breastfeeding initiation or to the vaccine? Would you decline all babies in the tests access to breastmilk? You cant do that!

    • Nathan says:

      Breastfeeding definitely reduces your risk of rotavirus, but it doesn’t eliminate it. Here is some research regarding the reduction of risk from GI illnesses by breastfeeding.
      The problem with doing studies on breastfeeding is that they can’t well be blinded or placebo controlled.
      How do you reckon that the rotavirus vaccine “may also undermine breastfeeding?”

  3. Steve Michaels says:

    I like the way the entire thread of comments has been removed to avoid the hard questions and critiques that have been posed. I guess it comes down to censorship.

    • Christine Vara says:

      Steve, I believe you are mistaken. To my knowledge, no comments have been removed from this blog (unless there has been a WordPress maintenance issue or a particular problem on this thread.) Other comments are visible to me here and I in checking our admin account I wasn’t able to find anything that supports your claims. You may want to check to see if it is something on your end. I believe it is clear to our readers, who are familiar with your posts, that we are not censoring anything or avoiding critiques.

  4. Steve Michaels says:

    This thread had over 70 comments on it. Now this is comment number 7…

  5. Steve Michaels says:

    Yes Nathan, you are right. I was thinking of the previous post. My apologies for the mistake.

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