Rotavirus is a common virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, especially in infants and young children. Childcare centers are a common site of outbreaks.
The vaccine, which is a liquid given by mouth, is recommended at ages 2 and 4 months, and again at 6 months, depending on the brand of vaccine used.
Why the Vaccine Is Recommended
Rotavirus can cause severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and, for some kids, hospitalization. Vaccination against rotavirus can help stop spread in the community, in addition to protecting the individual child.
Side effects can include diarrhea and vomiting, in addition to fever.
When to Delay or Avoid Immunization
The vaccine is not recommended if your child:
- is currently sick, although simple colds or other minor illnesses should not prevent immunization
- had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine
- has severe combined immune deficiency (SCID), a genetic disorder
Let the doctor know if your child has an allergy to latex, since one of the rotavirus vaccine brands has a latex applicator.
Talk to your doctor about whether it's a good idea for your child to be vaccinated if he or she:
- has an abnormality of the digestive system or a gastrointestinal disease
- has a history of intussusception, a type of serious bowel blockage
- has recently received gamma globulin or a blood transfusion
- has immune system problems from a disease such as cancer; is taking prednisone, steroids, or other immunosuppressive drugs; or is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
Your doctor may determine that the benefits of vaccinating your child outweigh the potential risks.
Caring for Your Child After Immunization
Depending on your child's age, fever may be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your doctor to see if you can give either medication and to find out the appropriate dose.
If vomiting or diarrhea occur, give your child small, frequent amounts of fluid and watch for signs of dehydration, such as less urine (pee) than usual.
When to Call the Doctor
- Call if you aren't sure if the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
- Call if there are problems after the immunization.
Rarely, some kids will develop intussusception within a week of getting the first dose of the vaccine. So after the first dose, watch for signs of intussusception, which can include periods of intense abdominal pain with uncontrollable crying; vomiting; blood or mucus in the poop; and seeming weak, drowsy, or fussy.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015