Rotarix (Rotavirus) - oral vaccine

What does Rotarix protect against?

Rotarix protects against the rotavirus, which is the leading cause of gastroenteritis and diarrheal ailments in young children. These ailments can cause fatigue, fussiness, loss of appetite, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

What is the rotavirus?

This is a virus affecting the intestinal tract, more specifically the bowels. Upon causing infection, it inflames the intestinal tract causing the symptoms as listed above.

How does the rotavirus spread?

This virus can spread very easily be direct contact with contaminated stool. The stool contains the virus which, with improper hand washing, can be spread to door knobs, light switches and other commonly touched items. Babies will often search in their diapers and spread the virus onto more surfaces like toys, floors and bedding. Soiled diapers must also be handles with care as they can transmit the virus as well.

How safe is Rotarix?

This vaccine is very safe and most infants who receive it do not experience any side effects at all. The most common side effects are irritability and diarrhea. Less commonly, dermatitis (skin irritation), abdominal pain and flatulence can occur. Even more rarely, allergic reaction could occur and in extreme cases an increased risk of intussusception (telescoping of the bowel) is possible.

How effective is Rotarix?

The Rotarix vaccine has shown 85-96% efficacy against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. During the first year after vaccination, efficacy against rotavirus gastroenteritis of any severity was around 70-87%.

Why is this vaccine important?

This vaccine has been proven to reduce hospitalizations and visits to the doctor by protecting your infant against the rotavirus. The rotavirus can spread quickly without protection from vaccine in areas where many young children are present, like daycare, preschools, hospitals and clinics. Symptoms associated with contracting the rotavirus can be quite severe and in rare cases, have resulted I death.

Who is eligible for this vaccine and when should it be received?

All children residing in Ontario are eligible for the publicly funded rotavirus vaccine. It should be administered at ages 2 and 4 months, ensuring at least 4 weeks in between each administration. Both portions of the vaccine should be provided before the infant is 24 weeks of age.

Who should NOT get this vaccine?

Your infant should not receive this vaccine if any of the following apply:

  • Had an allergy to a previous dose of this vaccine or any of its components;
  • Suspected or known immunocompromising conditions;
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder" (SCID);
  • A history of intussusception;
  • Uncorrected congenital abdominal disorders (such as Mechel's diverticulum);
  • Received blood products, including immunoglobulin within 42 days; or
  • Severe allergy to latex required special consideration before vaccination.


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Phone: 613.839.3271
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