Rotavirus infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) in children under 5. Nearly every child will develop rotavirus gastroenteritis by 5 years of age. Rotavirus gastroenteritis is responsible for 130,000 visits to the GP and 13,000 hospitalisations for dehydration every year.
Dr Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England (PHE), said:
Rotavirus is a highly infectious and unpleasant illness that affects thousands of young children each year. While most recover within a few days, nearly 1 in 5 will need to see their doctor, and 1 in 10 will end up in hospital as a result.
Although good hygiene measures can help prevent spread of the disease, the best way to protect your baby from catching rotavirus is to get them vaccinated.
The new vaccine will provide protection to those young babies who are most vulnerable to complications arising from rotavirus. From now on parents will be offered this protection alongside their baby’s other childhood vaccinations.
The rotavirus vaccine, Rotarix, will be given orally to babies at 2 and 3 months of age. It is hoped the vaccine will halve the number of rotavirus cases each year and lead to 70% fewer hospital stays.
The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine is one of a number of new or amended vaccination programmes being introduced by PHE this year, in partnership with the Department of Health and NHS England. Additional protection against shingles, meningococcal group C and flu will be introduced later this year.
Notes to editors
Further information about the Rotavirus vaccine.
Public Health England is a new executive agency of the Department of Health that took up its full responsibilities on 1 April, 2013. PHE works with national and local government, industry and the NHS to protect and improve the nation’s health and support healthier choices and will be addressing inequalities by focusing on removing barriers to good health. To find out more visit our website www.gov.uk/phe, follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk.
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