BC Drug and Poison Information Centre - Poison Control Service 1.800.567.8911           

Rotavirus

About the vaccine

The rotavirus vaccine helps protect against gastroenteritis (diarrhea and vomiting) caused by rotavirus. The vaccine also helps prevent the spread of rotavirus infection to others. It does not protect against diarrhea and vomiting caused by other viruses.

The vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of getting rotavirus gastroenteritis by about 75%. It prevents almost all severe cases and hospitalizations caused by rotavirus gastroenteritis.

Rotavirus vaccines are recommended, and provided free (as of January 1st, 2012), to infants at the routine 2 month and 4 month immunization appointments. The vaccination series must be completed by 8 months.

Rotavirus vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get rotavirus gastroenteritis. Talk to your doctor, nurse or health provider about getting vaccinated.

For more information about the vaccine, who should get it, the benefits and possible reactions, go to the Rotavirus Vaccine HealthLink BC File.

If you are a health care provider see the Rotavirus Q&A under the health care professionals section of the website for more information.

About the disease

Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis, sometimes called the stomach flu. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea (loose bowel movements) and hospitalization for diarrhea in children under 5 years of age. Almost all children will have at least 1 rotavirus infection before they are 5 years of age.

The first symptoms of rotavirus infection are usually fever and vomiting (throwing up), followed by diarrhea and stomach pain. These symptoms appear 1 to 3 days after a person has been infected with the virus. Diarrhea can last from 4 to 8 days. Severe and frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting can lead to dehydration in young children and it may result in death if not treated.

Rotavirus is easily spread through contact with the bowel movements (stools) of an infected child, such as the handling of diapers.

Last Updated: August 21, 2014