Rotavirus vaccination may lessen occurrence of gastroenteritis in small children

In the first year of a child's life, immunization with a rotavirus vaccine (Rotarix, Glaxo Smith Kline) may markedly lower incidence of severe virus gastroenteritis.

In the first year of a child’s life, immunization with a rotavirus vaccine (Rotarix, GlaxoSmithKline) may markedly lower incidence of severe virus gastroenteritis. Subsequently, the immunization may lead to notable reduction in diarrhea-triggered deaths in children under age 5, according to results of two studies published in the January 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In one randomized study of 4,939 African infants, the children received 1 of 3 treatments: rotavirus vaccine (3 doses), placebo, or 2 doses of vaccine and 1 dose of placebo. Researchers measured number of episodes of gastroenteritis triggered by wild-type rotavirus in the child’s first year.

Findings showed 4.9% of children in the placebo group were affected by severe gastroenteritis; 1.9% of vaccinated children were affected. Vaccine efficacy was 58.7% for infants receiving two doses; 63.7% for 3-dose participants. Overall, vaccine effectiveness against serious gastroenteritis was 30.2%.

In a second study, researchers realized a noteworthy drop in diarrhea-associated deaths among Mexican children, thanks to a rotavirus vaccine. Study authors analyzed diarrhea-related deaths in 2008 and during 2008 and 2009 rotavirus seasons and compared the outcomes with diarrhea-associated deaths during baseline (2003 to 2006) prior to the vaccine’s rollout.

In comparison, there were 1,793 diarrhea-associated deaths recorded during 2003 to 2006; 1,118 diarrhea-connected deaths occurred in 2008 among children under aged 5 years.