Rotavirus vaccine - what you need to know
All content below is taken in its entirety from the CDC Rotavirus Vaccine Information Statement (VIS): www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/rotavirus.pdf.
CDC review information for Rotavirus VIS:
- Page last reviewed: October 30, 2019
- Page last updated: October 30, 2019
- Issue date of VIS: October 30, 2019
Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
Why get vaccinated?
Rotavirus vaccine can prevent rotavirus disease.
Rotavirus causes diarrhea, mostly in babies and young children. The diarrhea can be severe, and lead to dehydration. Vomiting and fever are also common in babies with rotavirus.
Rotavirus vaccine is administered by putting drops in the child's mouth. Babies should get 2 or 3 doses of rotavirus vaccine, depending on the brand of vaccine used.
- The first dose must be administered before 15 weeks of age.
- The last dose must be administered by 8 months of age.
Almost all babies who get rotavirus vaccine will be protected from severe rotavirus diarrhea.
Another virus called porcine circovirus (or parts of it) can be found in rotavirus vaccine. This virus does not infect people, and there is no known safety risk. For more information, see Update on Recommendations for the Use of Rotavirus Vaccines external icon.
Rotavirus vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of rotavirus vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
- Has a weakened immune system.
- Has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).
- Has had a type of bowel blockage called intussusception.
In some cases, your child's health care provider may decide to postpone rotavirus vaccination to a future visit.
Infants with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. Infants who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting rotavirus vaccine.
Your child's provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
Irritability or mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting can happen after rotavirus vaccine.
Intussusception is a type of bowel blockage that is treated in a hospital and could require surgery. It happens naturally in some infants every year in the United States, and usually there is no known reason for it. There is also a small risk of intussusception from rotavirus vaccination, usually within a week after the first or second vaccine dose. This additional risk is estimated to range from about 1 in 20,000 US infants to 1 in 100,000 US infants who get rotavirus vaccine. Your provider can give you more information.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
What if there is a serious problem?
For intussusception, look for signs of stomach pain along with severe crying. Early on, these episodes could last just a few minutes and come and go several times in an hour. Babies might pull their legs up to their chest. Your baby might also vomit several times or have blood in the stool, or could appear weak or very irritable. These signs would usually happen during the first week after the first or second dose of rotavirus vaccine, but look for them any time after vaccination. If you think your baby has intussusception, contact a health care provider right away. If you can't reach your provider, take your baby to a hospital. Tell them when your baby got rotavirus vaccine.
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 911 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website (vaers.hhs.gov) or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff do not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Visit the VICP website (www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/indexl) or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.
How can I learn more?
- Ask your provider.
- Call your local or state health department.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by calling 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or visiting CDC's vaccine website.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Rotavirus vaccine. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/rotavirus.pdf. Updated October 30, 2019. Accessed November 1, 2019.
Review Date: 11/1/2019
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update November 1, 2019.