Rotarix® is an oral vaccine given at 6 weeks and 3 months of age.
For safety reasons, the first dose of Rotarix can only be given to babies younger than 15 weeks of age. The last dose of Rotarix can only be given to babies younger than 25 weeks of age.
The vaccine contains live weakened rotavirus.
In countries like New Zealand, a course of either Rotarix vaccine will protect around 8 babies in 10 from severe rotavirus infection and needing to be admitted to hospital because of rotavirus infection.
Further medical advice should be sought for any baby suspected or known to have a weakened immune system, for example due to HIV/AIDS or treatment with long term steroids, or any baby who has cancer or who is undergoing treatment for cancer.
Catch-up of the first Rotarix dose can only be given to babies younger than 15 weeks of age, i.e. up to and including the age of 14 weeks 6 days. If the first dose is not given BEFORE 15 weeks of age, NO doses can be given.
A second dose of Rotarix can only be given to babies younger than 25 weeks of age, i.e. up to and including the age of 24 weeks 6 days. NO Rotarix doses can be given to babies aged 25 weeks or older.
No special considerations, store as per cold chain between +2°C to +8°C.
One or two babies in 10 may have mild vomiting or diarrhoea during the 7 days after immunisation. However, studies suggest these symptoms may be unrelated to rotavirus vaccine because around the same number of babies who received a placebo liquid not containing rotavirus also developed these symptoms. The weakened rotavirus from the vaccines may be found in stools for up to 28 days after the first immunisation and up to 15 days after the second dose. However, after changing nappies caregivers only need to follow standard hygiene measures, i.e. wash their hands using soap and water and dry them well, or use liquid hand gel.
The risk of intussusception after a rotavirus vaccine is very small and the risks from rotavirus infection are much larger. Generally, the benefits of immunisation against rotavirus are considered to exceed the risk of intussusception.
Although the risk of intussusception after rotavirus immunisation is very small, it is recommended that parents seek medical advice if their baby develops intermittent crying/screaming episodes, pull their knees towards their chest and vomit, or develop pink or red coloured jelly-like stools.
Rotarix should be postponed for any baby with moderate to severe fever, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Babies in hospital, including those in neonatal units, can be immunised. The vaccine can be administered to a baby who lives with someone who is immunocompromised or receiving immunosuppressive therapy. After changing nappies caregivers are recommended to follow standard hygiene measures, i.e. wash their hands using soap and water and dry them well, or use liquid hand gel.
In countries like New Zealand, a course of Rotarix vaccines will protect around 8 babies in 10 from severe rotavirus infection and needing to be admitted to hospital because of rotavirus infection
There has been an over 90% reduction in rotavirus hospitalisations in industrialised and resource-deprived countries. As of January 2015, at least 75 countries worldwide had implemented rotavirus vaccination as part of the national immunisation schedule.
Prior to the introduction of rotavirus vaccine to the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule in 2014, 500–800 hospital admissions in children aged under 5 years annually were related to rotavirus gastroenteritis in the years 2010–2014. In 2015, after the introduction of rotavirus vaccine, the annual rate of rotavirus hospital admissions fell to less than 100.