Cartoon image of a man showing his arm where he received a vaccination

Infection with rotavirus can cause severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children. Dehydration due to this infection is a major cause of hospitalisation of young children worldwide and leads to death in regions of the world without access to good health care. Rotavirus infections have also been linked to seizures in young children and in the most severe cases, secondary bacterial blood infections caused by intestinal bacteria flora.

Almost all children experience rotavirus infection within their first 3 years of life, regardless of sanitation standards. Two live reassortant rotavirus vaccines are licensed currently in New Zealand. They are administered orally to infants younger than 6 or 8 months of age, depending on the vaccine. Rotarix® (RV1; GlaxoSmithKline) contains one reassortant rotavirus strain and RotaTeq® (RV5; Merck Sharpe and Dohme) contains five reassortant rotavirus strains.

Rotavirus vaccination was introduced to infants on the New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule in July 2014, following which there was a dramatic decline in rotavirus and gastroenteritis related hospitalisations of children younger than 5 years of age.

This review summarises selected literature published from January 2013 to August 2017 around the use of rotavirus vaccines in high income countries.

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The Immunisation Advisory Centre


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Literature review

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