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Good news about the rotavirus vaccine

Rotavirus is a gastrointestinal illness that can be a fatal cause of infant diarrhea and vomiting. Since the introduction of the vaccine in 2006, US cases of rotavirus have decreased significantly. The vaccine was also found to decrease the rotavirus “season” from 26 weeks out of a year to just 9 weeks (typically during colder months). Prior to the rotavirus vaccine, 25% of lab tests came back positive for rotavirus exposure, after the vaccine, that number is now 6%.

In the US, it was noted that rotavirus infection waxed and waned on alternate years. In Britain, the vaccination rate for rotavirus is greater than 90%, and they do not see this same fluctuation. The United States’ current rate is 70% and the hope is that if we can increase this rate, we will see decreased infection year over year.

More exciting news about the rotavirus vaccine is that a study recently conducted at the University of Michigan found that children who received all doses of the rotavirus vaccine had one-third lower rates of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus than their counterparts who were not vaccinated. A study was done in Australia previously which showed similar results. This is exciting news as this is the first time a vaccine has been shown to lower a child’s risk of a chronic condition! They cannot show causality at this time, but they have found that rotavirus attacks the pancreas.

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