Fewer Hospital Stays After Rotavirus Vaccine

Rotavirus vaccine associated with reduction in gastroenteritis hospitalizations among older kids and adults

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the gut caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites. Viruses called rotaviruses are the most common culprits in the US, and there's a vaccine to protect against infection from these viruses.

A rotavirus immunization program for infants may have helped reduce the number of severe gastroenteritis cases among children under 5 years of age, according to previous studies.

There is more, says a new research letter published in JAMA. Researchers found fewer gastroenteritis-related hospitalizations in older kids and adults after the program was implemented.

"Ask your child’s pediatrician about rotavirus vaccination."

This study was conducted by Paul A. Gastañaduy, MD, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues.

The objective of the study was to examine if a rotavirus immunization program for infants had any effect on the rates of gastroenteritis hospitalizations among older kids and adults who may be protected indirectly due to lower transmission of the disease.

The study authors looked at patterns of hospitalizations due to gastroenteritis among children 5 years of age or older and adults before and after infant rotavirus immunization was implemented.

The researchers collected past hospital discharge data from January 2000 to December 2010 from a national database. They looked at both rotavirus gastroenteritis cases as well as cause-unspecified gastroenteritis cases for which the cause was not known.

The age groups considered were 0-4 years, 5-14 years, 15-24 years, 25-44 years, 45-64 years and over 65 years of age.

The years 2000 to 2006 were considered pre-vaccine years and 2008 to 2010 were post-vaccine years. Data from 2007 was excluded since this was a transition year when vaccination coverage was not complete.

Upon analysis of the data, the researchers found that in post-vaccine years there was a significant reduction in rotavirus-related gastroenteritis hospitalizations among the age groups 0-4 years, 5-14 years and 15-24 years, as compared to pre-vaccine years.

Cause-unspecified discharges were lower during the post-vaccine period among all age groups below 45 years of age, compared to the pre-vaccine period.

“Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrheal illnesses in children. It is also the common cause of diarrhea for children and adults contracted while on cruise ships.  The rotavirus vaccine can reduce the severity of this disease and also can prevent the infection in the first place," Dr. David Winter, the Chief Clinical Officer, President, and Chairman of the Board of HealthTexas Provider Network (HTPN), a division of Baylor Health Care System, told dailyRx News.

"The pattern of observed reductions in gastroenteritis discharges among unvaccinated older children and adults is consistent with indirect protection resulting from infant rotavirus vaccination," the authors wrote. "These results point to the primacy of children in the transmission of rotavirus and illustrate how indirect benefits may amplify the effect of the US rotavirus vaccination program."

The study was published on August 27 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No conflicts of interest were reported by the authors.

Review Date: 
August 26, 2013
Last Updated:
August 28, 2013