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Rotavirus Vaccine

By William D. Surkis, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College; Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Lankenau Medical Center
Jerome Santoro, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College; Chief, Department of Medicine, Lankenau Medical Center

For more information, see the Rotavirus vaccine information statement.

The rotavirus vaccine is a live-virus vaccine that helps protect against gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, and, if symptoms persist, dehydration and organ damage.


The rotavirus vaccine is part of the recommended vaccination schedule for children. Two or three doses are given, depending on the formulation: at age 2 months and 4 months or at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months.

Side Effects

No severe side effects have been reported, but mild, temporary diarrhea occurs in 1 to 3% of children within 7 days of receiving the vaccine.

When an older rotavirus vaccine was used, the risk of intussusception was increased. In this disorder, the intestine is blocked because one segment of the intestine slides into another, much like the parts of a telescope. The older vaccine was taken off the market in the United States. The newer vaccines, when given as recommended, may increase the risk of intussusception, but only slightly.