Disease & Vaccine Information

Rotavirus Disease & Vaccine Information

Find the Information You Need to Make an Informed Vaccine Decision



The rotavirus is a very contagious RNA virus that belongs to the Reoviridae family, and is thought to be the most common cause of severe diarrhea among children worldwide.  Laboratory testing is required to confirm a diagnosis of rotavirus  and most cases occur in children ages three to 35 months; however older children and adults can still develop the infection. 

Virtually all children become infected with rotavirus in the first five years of life. Infants younger than three months of age may not develop diarrhea symptoms when they are infected with rotavirus because they have maternal antibodies transferred from their mother to protect them in the first few months of life, including through breastfeeding.  The virus spreads when individuals come into contact with an infected person’s body fluids or feces, or items that have been in contact with the feces of an infected person. Click to learn more about Rotavirus…

Rotavirus Vaccine

There are two FDA approved oral rotavirus vaccines available for use in the United States and are approved for use in infants between the ages of six and 24 weeks. Both vaccines contain genetically engineered live attenuated human rotavirus strains, but differ in how they are made and in the number of doses prescribed when they are given. Both vaccines are live virus vaccines and transmission of vaccine virus has been reported from vaccine recipients to non-vaccinated contacts. These vaccines have not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility.   Click to learn more about Rotavirus vaccines…

Quick Facts
  • There are five main strains that cause more than 90 percent of human rotavirus infections in developed countries, such as the U.S., but rotavirus strains are more diverse in developing countries. 
  • By 1980, the CDC had declared rotavirus to be the most frequent cause of serious gastrointestinal illness in infants and toddlers and estimated that the virus caused between 20 and 60 deaths annually in the United States. The infection, however, has never been a nationally notifiable disease, therefore it is not known how many cases actually occur each year. Click to read more Quick Facts…

Rotavirus Vaccine

  • Common side effects from the rotavirus vaccines include diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear), nasopharyngitis (inflammation of the nasal passages and cold-like symptoms), and bronchospasm (asthma and bronchitis-like symptoms). Reported serious adverse reactions following rotavirus vaccination include intussusception (bowel blockage), Kawasaki Disease (inflammation of the blood vessels), ear infection and pneumonia.   
  • Contraindications to vaccination include severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to vaccine or vaccine component, history of intussusception, and Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Click to read more Quick Facts…

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about rotavirus and rotavirus vaccines by reading all sections in the table of contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.


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