Rotavirus vaccine reduces hospitalization, cuts costs

June 16, 2014

The introduction of rotavirus vaccines has substantially reduced the healthcare utilization related to diarrhea in children residing in the United States, according to a new study published in Pediatrics.

The introduction of rotavirus vaccines has substantially reduced the healthcare utilization related to diarrhea in children residing in the United States, according to a new study published in Pediatrics.

Currently, there are 2 vaccines commercially available: the pentavalent rotavirus vaccine (RV5; RotaTeq, Merck and Co) and the monovalent vaccine (RV1; Rotarix, GSK Bio-logicals). The RV5 was recommended by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in 2006, and the monovalent vaccine in 2008.

The retrospective analysis showed that by the end of December 2010, rotavirus vaccination rates among children younger than aged 5 years reached 58% for the pentavalent vaccine and 5% for the monovalent version.

When comparing the average rate of hospitalization for rotavirus infection in 2000 to 2006, before either vaccine was available, the authors found that there was a 75% reduction in the hospitalization rate in 2007 to 2008, a 60% reduction in 2008-2009, a 94% reduction in 2009 to 2010, and 80% in 2010 to 2011.

In 2010 to 2011, the rate of rotavirus-coded hospitalizations was decreased by 92% among children who received RV5 and 96% by RV1 recipients, as compared with those who did not receive the vaccine.

 

The benefits of vaccination even seemed to positively affect those who were not vaccinated. There were decreased hospitalization rates for rotavirus after the era of vaccination began, with a 50% reduction in 2007 to 2008, a 77% reduction in 2009 to 2010, and a 25% reduction in 2010 to 2011. Thus, the vaccines also conferred indirect benefits to unvaccinated children, probably by reducing the amount of rotavirus circulating in the population.

In addition, the RV5, which has been available longer than RV1, conferred durable protection through the fourth year of life.

Diarrhea is one of the top 2 killers of children under aged 5 years worldwide, and rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrheal disease. Prior to the introduction of the vaccines, rotavirus infections were responsible for between 55,000 and 70,000 hospitalizations a year, resulting in up to 60 deaths. The authors estimate that routine vaccination has prevented 176, 587 children in the US from hospitalization between July 2007 and June 2011.

Approximately 242, 335 fewer emergency department visits have also been avoided, along with an estimated 1.1 million fewer outpatient visits for diarrheal illness during this period, amounting to a savings of around $924 million in health costs.