By age two or three, most children have had the rotavirus. This infection is what causes severe diarrhea in children and infants throughout the world. This virus is typically treated effectively by giving the child plenty of fluids to keep them from getting dehydrated and allowing them to rest. However, if the child becomes severely dehydrated, they will often need to go to the hospital and have fluids administered intravenously. Getting the rotavirus vaccine is important in helping to prevent this illness, but before getting this vaccine, it is important to know about the potential rotavirus vaccine risks.
What Are the Symptoms of Rotavirus?
The rotavirus symptoms differ between children and adults. The symptoms children can experience can include:
- Bloody or severe diarrhea
- A temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Frequent vomiting episodes lasting longer than three hours
- Seeming irritable, lethargic, or in pain
- Symptoms of dehydration (crying without tears, unusual sleepiness, dry mouth, little to no urination, or unresponsiveness)
The symptoms adults can experience can include:
- Inability to keep liquids down for at least 24 hours
- Vomiting blood
- Having a temperature that is above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
- Frequent vomiting episodes for two days or longer
- Bloody bowel movements
- Symptoms of dehydration (dry mouth, severe weakness, lightheadedness, excessive thirst, little to no urination, or dizziness)
What is the Rotavirus Vaccine and What is its Purpose?
The rotavirus vaccines that are available are both live weakened viral vaccines. Both vaccines are administered orally to babies in a series. One is given in a three-dose series at two, four, and six months. The other is given in a two-dose series at two and four months.
This vaccine should be administered between six weeks of age and fourteen weeks, six days of age. Those who are fifteen weeks of age or older should not start this vaccine. There must be at least four weeks between each dose and all doses must be administered by the time the child is eight months old.
What are the Possible Rotavirus Vaccine Side Effects?
There is a chance of side effects with this vaccine and all parents should fully understand these as part of understanding the possible rotavirus vaccine risks. Most babies will have no problems with this vaccine and those who do experience side effects often find them to be mild. The side effects can include:
- Temporary vomiting
- Temporary diarrhea
Who Should Not Get the Rotavirus Vaccine?
Like all vaccines, there are things that can prevent or delay the ability to get them. For the rotavirus vaccine, these include:
- A previous severe allergic reaction to a previous rotavirus vaccine dose, a component of this vaccine, or a latex allergy
- Being moderately to severely ill (including present vomiting or diarrhea that is mild to severe)
- A weakened immune system (such as due to immune system-affecting disease and conditions, HIV/AIDS, long-term steroid or other drug treatment, cancer treatment with drugs or x-rays, or having cancer)
- Current or previous intussusception (common type of bowel obstruction)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). List of Vaccines in the United States. Retrieved on June 24, 2010 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/vaccines-list.htm
Mayo Clinic. (2008). Rotavirus. Retrieved on June 24, 2010 from the Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rotavirus/DS00783
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