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Gold-standard review finds rotavirus vaccines are effective

By Lilian Anekwe

Rotavirus vaccination is safe and effective for the prevention of diarrhoea in children, according to the results of a systematic review published by the Cochrane Collaboration.

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation are awaiting cost-effectiveness data before assessing whether to incorporate a rotavirus jab into the childhood immunisation programme in the UK.

This systematic review included 26 randomised controlled trials of 100,000 children given Rotarix between one and three months at the time of the first dose of the two-dose schedule.

Pooled analysis showed that compared to placebo, Rotarix reduced cases of rotavirus diarrhoea by 83% in the first year and 52% in the second year. It also reduced medical visits by 92% after one year and 84% after two years.

The review also included eight randomised controlled trials of 76,000 children aged between one and six months given all three doses of the RotaTeq vaccine schedule.

Compared to placebo, RotaTeq reduced the number of cases of rotavirus diarrhoea by 73% after one year and 62% during the second year. There were also fewer adverse events reported in trials with RotaTeq than in children given a placebo.

Lead author Dr Karla Soares-Weiser, director of Enhance Reviews London, said the evidence supported the inclusion of rotavirus vaccination in national immunisation programmes, and concluded: ‘The balance between benefit and harm favours benefit.'

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD008521

Gold-standard review finds rotavirus vaccine is effective

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