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Vaccinate to help young patients avoid contagious rotavirus
e-Reports, Aug. 20, 2012
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Vaccination rates in the state are improving, except for one vaccine, noted the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). Too many Indiana children are not being vaccinated against rotavirus. In fact, the state lags behind the national average in immunizing for the disease.

The most recent National Immunization Survey results showed only 62.3 percent of Hoosier infants received a complete rotavirus vaccine series.

“We have had several children in the state hospitalized for rotavirus,” explained Joan Duwve, M.D., medical director for the ISDH. “Two rotavirus vaccines are currently licensed for use in the United States, and millions of babies in this country have been safely vaccinated.”

Dr. Duwve noted that in clinical trials, the efficacy of rotavirus vaccine against rotavirus disease of any severity was 74-87 percent. Rotavirus vaccine was found to be even more effective, from 85-98 percent, at preventing severe disease resulting in hospitalization.

“Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea and vomiting among children worldwide,” she said. “It is very contagious because it is spread through the fecal-oral route and may persist on surfaces for days to weeks. Infants and young children can become quite ill with rotavirus, resulting in dehydration, metabolic acidosis and hospitalization.”

Before the rotavirus vaccine, the burden of the disease in U.S. children was staggering, noted Dr. Duwve. Rotavirus disease was attributed to more than 200,000 emergency department visits, more than 55,000 hospitalizations and between 20 and 60 pediatric deaths each year.

“I urge physicians to vaccinate their young patients against this disease,” advised Dr. Duwve.

The ISDH offers additional information and resources about rotavirus here.

Find rotavirus guidelines from the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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