Did you know?
Approximately 1 in 5 cases of all severe childhood diarrhea and vomiting are caused by rotavirus. Almost all Canadian children will be infected with rotavirus at least once by 5 years of age.
What is the rotavirus vaccine?
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 contains a weakened form of rotavirus that does not cause disease.
Who should get the rotavirus vaccine?
Find information in different languages in the HealthLinkBC File: Rotavirus Vaccine (Rotarix®).
What are the benefits of the vaccine?
The vaccine prevents more than 3 out of 4 cases of rotavirus disease, and almost all severe cases, including hospitalizations. When you get your child vaccinated, you help protect others as well.
What are the side effects?
Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get a rotavirus infection.
Most babies do not have any reactions after they get the rotavirus vaccine. Some may have diarrhea, crankiness, stomach pain, gas or an itchy rash after immunization.
In some countries outside of Canada, a very rare risk of intussusception (a blockage of the intestine) has been seen in the week after the first dose of rotavirus vaccine. The risk of intussuception is about 1 to 2 cases for every 100,000 babies that get the vaccine. At most, this could affect 1 baby a year in B.C. By comparison, each year in B.C., about 1 in 4,000 children under the age of 1 get intussusception without having received the vaccine.
Signs of intussusception may include a swollen abdomen (tummy), frequent vomiting, and bloody stools (poops). Your baby could seem weak and irritable and have several bouts of intense crying. If your baby shows these signs, you should take your baby to the nearest emergency department.
It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is an extremely rare possibility of anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips. The chance of true anaphylaxis is about 1 in 1 million vaccine doses. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Learn more about anaphylaxis on our vaccine side effects page.
It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your health care provider
Where can I learn more?
- Read the HealthLinkBC File: Rotavirus Vaccine (Rotarix®).
- Speak to your health care provider.
Rotavirus vaccine with Dr. Ran Goldman
- Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis, sometimes called the stomach flu.
- Rotavirus is easily spread through contact with the stools of an infected child, such as when handling diapers.
- Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea and hospitalization for diarrhea in children under 5 years of age.
- Almost all unimmunized children will have at least one rotavirus infection before they are 5 years of age.
- The first symptoms of rotavirus infection are usually fever and vomiting, 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 this may result in death if not treated.