To date, the best rotavirus prevention method is a new vaccine that is shown to significantly reduce the number of rotavirus infections, the severity of the infections, and hospitalizations due to the infections. With RotaTeq, the new vaccine for rotavirus, prevention may be possible in many cases, based on studies measuring the vaccine's effectiveness. While proper hygiene and sanitation are important, they have not led to a significant reduction in rotavirus infections.
While it is important that you wash your child's hands (and yours) frequently, better hygiene and sanitation have not significantly reduced rotavirus disease. A new, recently licensed vaccine is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus infection.
The new vaccine, RotaTeq®, marketed by Merck & Co., Inc., is a live, oral vaccine for preventing rotavirus disease. It is the only vaccine approved in the United States that can help protect against rotavirus infection.
Rotavirus vaccine will not prevent diarrhea or vomiting caused by other viruses, but it is very effective against rotavirus disease. Studies indicate that the vaccine can prevent about 74 percent of all rotavirus cases, about 98 percent of severe cases, and about 96 percent of hospitalizations due to rotavirus.
In 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a live virus vaccine (RotaShield®) for use in children. However, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that RotaShield no longer be used for infants in the United States because of data that indicated a strong association between RotaShield and intussusception (bowel obstruction) among some infants during the first 1 to 2 weeks following vaccination. The manufacturer withdrew the RotaShield from the market in 1999; it is no longer used in the United States.