How Does the Rotavirus Vaccine Work?
The rotavirus vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine. This means that it contains the living virus which has been altered in such a way as to prevent it from actually causing disease. However, the body's immune system still responds to it, providing future protection from the disease.
In general, live vaccines provide better protection from infections (compared to other types of vaccines) but can, in rare cases, actually cause the disease, particularly in people who have very weakened immune systems.
Getting the Rotavirus Vaccine
Some general considerations include the following:
- This vaccine is given as two or three doses, depending on the particular vaccine. These simple dosing schedules are flexible enough to coincide nicely with standard well-baby visits.
- This is one of the few vaccines that are given by mouth (not as an injection).
- If your child spits out some or all of the vaccine, a replacement dose may be recommended for Rotarix, but not for RotaTeq.
- There are no dietary restrictions; your child may eat or drink as usual (including breastfeeding) before and after the vaccine.
- Children can be vaccinated if they have a minor illness, such as the common cold. However, the vaccine should be postponed if the child is moderately or severely ill.
The particular dosing instructions vary, depending on whether your child is receiving RotaTeq or Rotarix.
(Click Rotavirus Vaccine Dosage for more information.)