Rotavirus

About the vaccine

Did you know?

Approximately 1 in 5 cases of all severe childhood diarrhea and vomiting is caused by rotavirus. Almost all Canadian children will be infected with rotavirus at least once by 5 years of age.

Rotavirus vaccine with Dr. Ran Goldman

The rotavirus vaccine helps protect babies against diarrhea and vomiting caused by rotavirus.  It does not protect against diarrhea and vomiting caused by other viruses.  The vaccine prevents about 3 out of 4 cases of rotavirus disease, and almost all severe cases, including hospitalizations. When you get your child immunized you help protect others as well.

The vaccine is given by mouth (orally), not by a shot. A few drops of the liquid vaccine are placed into your baby’s mouth to swallow.

Rotavirus vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get a rotavirus infection.

Who should get the vaccine? 

The rotavirus vaccine is provided free as part of your child’s routine immunizations.

It is recommended that all babies get the rotavirus vaccine. The vaccine is given as a series of 2 doses. The first dose is given at 2 months of age, and the second at 4 months. The rotavirus vaccine is given at the same time as other childhood immunizations.

It is important that your baby gets the rotavirus vaccine on time. The first dose of the vaccine must be given before 20 weeks of age and the second dose before 8 months of age. Two doses of rotavirus vaccine are needed for best protection.

The virus from the vaccine may be found in your baby’s stool for at least 10 days after immunization. Parents and caregivers should wash their hands thoroughly after changing diapers.

For more information about the rotavirus vaccine, including the benefits, possible reactions after the vaccine and who should not get the vaccine, see the Rotavirus Vaccine HealthLinkBC File.

About the disease

Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis, sometimes called the stomach flu. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea (loose bowel movements) and hospitalization for diarrhea in children under 5 years of age. Almost all children will have at least 1 rotavirus infection before they are 5 years of age.

The first symptoms of rotavirus infection are usually fever and vomiting (throwing up), followed by diarrhea and stomach pain. These symptoms appear 1 to 3 days after a person has been infected with the virus. Diarrhea can last from 4 to 8 days. Severe and frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting can lead to dehydration in young children and it may result in death if not treated.

Rotavirus is easily spread through contact with the bowel movements (stools) of an infected child, such as the handling of diapers.