Vaccinating babies for rotavirus protects the whole family

From NPR’s Shots blog:

A 7-year-old vaccine that has drastically cut intestinal infections in infants is benefiting the rest of America, too.

A study published Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that vaccinating infants against rotavirus has also caused a striking decline in serious infections among older children and adults who didn’t get vaccinated.

“This is called herd immunity,” the CDC’s Ben Lopman tells Shots. “By vaccinating young children, we not only prevent them from getting infected, but we also prevent them from transmitting [the virus] to their siblings, their parents and their classmates.”

Rotavirus is highly contagious and hardy — it can persist on doorknobs and other surfaces. It causes abdominal cramps and severe watery diarrhea, often accompanied by vomiting and fever.

The indirect benefit of rotavirus vaccination is enormous, among both the vaccinated kids and everyone else.

Since the vaccine was introduced in 2006, rotavirus hospitalizations have dropped in infants and young children by 80 percent. “About 40,000 hospitalizations per year have been averted by the vaccination program,” Lopman says.

The vaccine costs about $65 a dose, and infants need two or three doses.

The current study, which was published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, shows that the rotavirus vaccine is indirectly preventing thousands of hospitalizations for diarrhea among older children and adults.

Read the complete post here.

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