More vaccinations, less rotavirus

February 5, 2015

Vaccinating infants against rotavirus reduces the infection rate, according to findings from a recent study of children enrolled in an acute gastroenteritis surveillance program.

Vaccinating infants against rotavirus reduces the infection rate, according to findings from a recent study of children enrolled in an acute gastroenteritis surveillance program.

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, who were monitoring children brought to the hospital’s emergency department (ED) with acute gastroenteritis, observed that a high proportion of rotavirus patients came from a small number of healthcare provider locations. Suspecting a relationship between the number of rotavirus cases and vaccination coverage, they reviewed the vaccination records of babies who came into the ED with acute gastroenteritis over a 2-year period.

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Based on the records, they classified 68 provider locations in the city as low vaccination coverage (lower than 40%), medium coverage (40% to 79%), or high coverage (80% or higher). Four locations were low coverage, 22 medium, and 42 high.

Infants from low-coverage locations accounted for 31.4% of all rotavirus cases-compared with 13.1% for medium-coverage and 9.6% for high-coverage locations-and were 3 times more likely than babies from high-coverage locations to contract rotavirus. (One low-coverage location was a neonatal intensive care unit, where rotavirus vaccine can’t be given because it’s an oral live vaccine.) 

The researchers conclude that the high proportion of rotavirus cases in low-vaccine-coverage locations suggests that “ongoing disease transmission is related to failure to vaccinate.” They advocate educational efforts to promote timely vaccination of infants beginning at age 2 months. (Two vaccines are available: 1 given at 2 and 4 months, and the other given at 2, 4, and 6 months.) 

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