The Success of Rotavirus Vaccine (Pedcast)

The stats are in and are amazing.  In today’s pedcast, Dr. Smolen brings the latest information about the incredible effectiveness of rotavirus vaccine.  This podcast if full of useful information that parents should consider when deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children against rotavirus diarrheal illness.


It is my opinion that the experts that study disease, learn how it moves around, devise vaccines to halt illness have done a poor job at educating the lay public and countering a lot of vaccine noise.

I am a strong vaccine advocate because I take care of sick children…sometimes very sick children.

Prevention is the name of the game.

So I read with much interest the actual numbers for what every pediatrician knows…The diarrhea vaccines that prevent rotavirus  infections do work!

Today I am going to bring my listeners the latest stats, hot off the CDC press, that prove how very effective these vaccines are.

If the medical community doesn’t get the word out that children need to be vaccinated, who will?

I think you will see that the numbers speak for themselves.


-First a little biology, a detour down science lane so we are all on the same page.

Most diarrhea illnesses are caused by viruses that infect the lining cells of the intestines.

These viruses are consumed unknowingly by the child, usually about 2 days before the illness sets in.

Children provide the perfect target for stomach viruses. They have poor hygiene, want to touch everything, rarely wash their hands, and have never encountered many of the viruses that cause illness.

In the warmer months, most stomach infections are caused by a group of germs called entero viruses. But in the colder weather, a germ called Rotavirus is the big player: and it lives up to its name.  It will clean you out.

Capable of causing severe illness in anyone but children seem to be the most susceptible.

Since children are smaller than adults, they have less water reserve in their little bodies.

When intake stops from vomiting and diarrhea losses add to the problem, a little child can run out of water very quickly.

Dehydration is serious and life threatening. In fact the most common cause of death among the world’s children.

A staggering 40,000 children die every day from diarrhea illness in children around the world.  Contemplate that number!

In places where there are hospitals like the US, most are saved by IV fluids or oral rehydration techniques.


So I have convinced you that diarrhea viruses, especially rotavirus is a serious matter.

Before the rotavirus vaccines where introduced in the US, about 70,000 children per year ended up in the hospital, usually for 2 or 3 days getting IV fluid because they had become dehydrated from all the vomiting and diarrhea they had from the infection, 200,000 in ER’s, and 400.000 in doctors offices.

Can you imagine how much money all that medical care must have cost?



Now to the new information recently released by the CDC

Their statisticians analyzed the data for the rotavirus seasons 2001-2009.  Rotavirus vaccine usage really got going in the 2007-2008 season.  Prior to this, it was really not used.

The effects were dramatic:  89% drop in rotavirus related hospital admissions, an almost 50% reduction in ER visits for diarrheal illness, and about a 10% drop in doctor visits for diarrheal illness.

The CDC estimates that in the two year period between 2007 and 2009, about 65,000 hospital admissions were averted with the vaccine in children under 5 years of age.

Pain and suffering aside, they think that the vaccine saved about $278,000 in healthcare costs.   WOW.  To me, those numbers shows that rotavirus vaccine is incredibly effective and most of my patients take advantage of it fortunately.


So the next time you hear someone talking about vaccines like they are poison, keep in mind incredible success stories like the rotavirus vaccine.

Lets give it to the vaccine experts, they got it right and literally millions of children have already been the beneficiaries

When it comes to vaccines or any other medical intervention, we need to consider BOTH reward and risk.  If a therapy has rewards that are very high and risks that are very low: that’s a winner for me.

Related Pedcasts:

The Physiology of Dehydration- A Parent’s Guide (Pedcast)

Smo Notes:




FDA reports of adverse events

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