The Value of the Rotavirus Vaccine

Gastrointestinal calls after rotavirus vaccine introduction declined at medical center

(RxWiki News) The best reason to vaccinate your children is to protect them from disease. Comparing the time before a vaccine to the time afterward shows how effective those shots are.

A recent study found a decrease in phone calls related to stomach problems to a medical center occurred after the rotavirus vaccine was introduced.

"Give kids all of their vaccines."

The study, led by Derek J. Williams, MD, MPH, from the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program within the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, aimed to find out the possible effect of the rotavirus vaccine's introduction on calls to a medical service.

The researchers specifically looked at calls related to stomach problems or gastroenteritis in children. Rotavirus is a disease that causes severe diarrhea and often a fever, vomiting and stomach pain.

The researchers investigated all the phone calls that came in to the Vanderbilt Telephone Triage Program for children under 5 years old.

The time period they looked at included three years before the rotavirus vaccine was licensed by the FDA (from May 2004 to April 2007) and three years after it was licensed (from May 2007 to April 2010).

They also split their analysis into two so they could take into account the season when rotavirus usually occurs (February through April) and when it doesn't usually occur (May to January).

During the total time period of May 2004 to April 2010, a total of 156,362 calls came in, and 19,731 of these were related to stomach problems in the kids.

Comparing the period before the vaccine to the period after the vaccine, total calls during the year related to gastrointestinal issues dropped by 8 percent.

However, when the researchers looked specifically at rotavirus season before and after the vaccine, the decline in calls was more substantial.

Phone calls related to gastrointestinal problems in the three rotavirus seasons after the vaccine was licensed were 23 to 31 percent lower than they were in rotavirus seasons before the vaccine came out.

The researchers did not see significant declines during the non-rotavirus seasons in gastrointestinal calls.

The researchers also looked at the rate of rotavirus diagnosis in laboratories and found that the decline of these after the vaccine was introduced matched the decline in gastrointestinal-related phone calls.

Also, after the vaccine had been licensed, the highest number of gastrointestinal-related phone calls occurred at the peak of stomach flu season rather than during the peak of rotavirus season.

The stomach flu is not related to influenza, or the traditional flu.

The study's data provide good evidence for the effectiveness of the rotavirus vaccine in preventing rotavirus and for additional gastrointestinal calls to be more related to the stomach flu.

The study was published September 10 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Vaccine Surveillance Network. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 8, 2012