Prevention of rotavirus

Learn how rotavirus can be prevented.

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How to prevent rotavirus

Rotavirus can be prevented through vaccination. It is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus illness.

Vaccinations reduce:

  • the number and length of hospital stays
  • the need for emergency room visits to treat dehydration (loss of fluids) due to severe diarrhea and vomiting

There are 2 vaccines available. Consult your health care provider to determine which is best for your child.

Rotavirus vaccines have few, if any, side effects. Side effects can be:

  • mild (irritability)
  • severe (bowel blockage)

Who should get the vaccine?

Rotavirus vaccines are recommended for infants starting at 6 weeks of age. This includes healthy premature infants who are not hospitalized.

The first dose should be given to your baby when he or she is between 6 and 14 weeks old and the last dose before the age of 8 months. Infants are better protected against rotavirus if they get the vaccine immediately after they turn 6 weeks old.

The vaccine is not recommended for babies and infants:

  • after the age of 8 months
  • with a weakened immune system (unable to fight disease easily)
  • with a history of intussusception (when a part of the intestine folds into another section of intestine)

You can become ill with rotavirus if you have not been vaccinated and handle feces from a vaccinated baby. This is because the vaccine contains a small amount of the inactive virus. The virus can become active once it leaves your child's body through feces during the first weeks after vaccination.

To lower the risk of infection you should carefully wash your hands after being in contact with a vaccinated infant. This is especially important after handling a dirty diaper.

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