Information about the Rotavirus Immunisation Program funded under the Immunise Australia Program.
Latest information on Rotavirus and Intussusception
New evidence has shown there is a slightly increased risk of intussusception, a bowel condition, associated with rotavirus vaccination. The increased risk of intussusception following rotavirus vaccination, is estimated as approximately 6 additional cases of intussusception among every 100,000 infants vaccinated, or 14 additional cases per year in Australia.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have reviewed recent evidence and found that the benefits of rotavirus vaccination outweigh the risks associated with it. ATAGI recommends the continued use of the rotavirus vaccine for infants under the National Immunisation Program. It is important for parents to be aware of the risks and benefits associated with rotavirus vaccination.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children, causing around half of all hospitalised cases of gastroenteritis in children less than 5 years of age. Children can be infected with a rotavirus several times during their lives. Rotavirus spreads by contact with infected faeces and might also be transmitted through faecally contaminated food, water and respiratory droplets.
The illness can begin abruptly with vomiting 1 to 3 days after infection, often before the onset of diarrhoea. The spectrum of illness ranges from mild, watery diarrhoea of limited duration to severe, dehydrating diarrhoea with vomiting, fever, and shock. Symptoms generally resolve in 3 to 7 days.
Rotavirus is a vaccine preventable disease. Rotavirus vaccination is recommended as part of routine childhood immunisation. The vaccine contains a small amount of inactivated live rotavirus. It is listed on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule and funded for children under the Immunise Australia Program. To receive rotavirus immunisation, visit your local doctor or immunisation provider. It is important to note that the vaccine is provided at no cost, however a consultation fee may apply.
This Program commenced in July 2007 and provides free rotavirus vaccine for all children born on or after 1 May 2007.
Doses of vaccine are given at 2 and 4 months of age, or 2, 4 and 6 months of age, depending on the vaccine used. There are strict age limits for the administration of rotavirus vaccine. It is very important to give each dose on time, as late (“catch-up”) doses cannot be given. The safety of the vaccine has not been tested in older babies or children. It is vital, therefore, to ensure that your child receives this vaccine as close to the recommended age as possible (2, 4 and 6 months of age). Immunisation of older children or adults is not recommended. Rotavirus vaccines are for oral administration only. Under no circumstances should rotavirus vaccines be injected.
Immunisation against rotavirus is achieved using single-disease vaccines. It is recommended you complete that vaccine course with the same brand of vaccine. If this is not possible, due to relocation or other reasons, please discuss your individual requirements with your immunisation provider.
For information about immunisation in your area contact your State or Territory Health Department. For technical information or information about vaccines, refer to the rotavirus section of the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition 2013.