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Rotavirus vaccination 'prevents hospital admissions' in children

Rotavirus vaccinations are effective in reducing hospital admissions for gastroenteritis in children, according to new research that supports including the vaccination in the UK infant immunisation schedule.

Researchers looked at cases of gastroenteritis in 215 children aged 14 weeks or older that were eligible to have received at least one dose of any rotavirus vaccine. Each case was matched to a control by date of birth that was attending an outpatient clinic or attending hospital for a reason other than gastroenteritis.

Effectiveness of two doses of the vaccine in preventing hospital admissions was 90%, compared with those who were not vaccinated. This remained the same when looking solely at children aged 12 months or older, but increased slightly to 91% in children aged between three and 11 months.

Effectiveness against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis, defined as a Vesikari scale score of 11 or more, was 91%, compared with those who were not vaccinated. In mild to moderate severity, this was reduced to 66%. This difference was not significant.

The authors from the University of Antwerp concluded: ‘Our findings should prove useful for public health officers and policy makers to encourage implementation of rotavirus vaccine use in other, similar high-income countries.'

The data comes after Pulse revealed ministers were looking at the cost-effectiveness of including routine rotavirus vaccinations in the infant immunisation schedule to reduce the incidence of serious cases of gastroenteritis.

BMJ 2012, online 8 August

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