Rotavirus vaccines reduce diarrhea hospitalizations in kids

Rotavirus is a common cause of diarrheal illness in infants and young children in the United States.
By Amy Wallace  |  Aug. 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM
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Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A recent study found the rotavirus vaccine has reduced hospitalizations of children in the United States by more than 380,000 between 2008 and 2013.

The study, published today in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, analyzed data on hospitalizations for acute gastroenteritis in children under 5 at hospitals in 26 states to evaluate the effect of the rotavirus vaccine.

Rotavirus causes diarrhea in infants and young children, often leading to hospitalization. Researchers found that from 2008 to 2013, after the rotavirus vaccine was introduced, more than 380,000 children avoided hospitalization for diarrhea -- saving roughly $1.2 billion in medical costs.

"Our findings confirm the sustained impact and effectiveness of the rotavirus vaccine program," Dr. Eyal Leshem, who was a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the study and currently is affiliated with the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, said in a press release. "Increasing vaccine coverage likely resulted in the larger declines of rotavirus hospitalizations observed in the later years studied."

Approximately 73 percent of children age 19 to 35 months received the rotavirus vaccine in 2015, which is lower than other childhood vaccines, such as diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis, or DTaP.

"Efforts to further increase rotavirus vaccine coverage rates to better protect all children in the U.S. against rotavirus disease should continue," Leshem said.

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