Contraindications and precautions of the Rotavirus vaccine

Rotaviruses are intestinal viruses that infect virtually all children by three years of age. It is the most common cause of diarrhea in children including hospital-acquired diarrhea; childcare center outbreaks are common. The illness often also includes fever and vomiting, lasts a week or longer and can cause persistent infection in immunocompromised people.

In order to prevent and combat against this virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that “all full term infants receive the vaccine and should begin the series between the ages of 6-14 weeks of age. Breast fed infants can also receive the rotavirus vaccine.”

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Although they believe “all full term infants” should receive the vaccine, this is not necessarily true. There are some infants that should not receive it, or should receive it with precautions.

The term contraindications means that a medication or treatment, or vaccine in this case, is inadvisable for that specific patient. Although there are not a whole lot of contraindications for the rotavirus, there are a few that should definitely be made known.

First, if there is a history of a serious reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of RV vaccine, this vaccine would be contraindicated.

Next, if there has been a demonstrated history of hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine, it should be considered unsafe for the patient. Therefore, before your child takes this vaccine, tell the doctor or pharmacist if your child is allergic to it; or to latex (which may be found in the packaging of some brands); or if he/she has any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor for more details or for a list of vaccine components, go here.

Lastly, before using this vaccine, tell your doctor or pharmacist your child’s medical history, especially of: current fever/illness, current vomiting/diarrhea, stomach/abdominal problems, not gaining weight/growing as expected, blood cancer (such as leukemia, lymphoma) and blood disorders (such as hemophilia). This vaccine is contraindicated if there has ever been a diagnosis of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) such as HIV/AIDS.

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The vaccine series should not be initiated after 15 weeks of age. Also, it should not be administered after 7 months of age because of insufficient data on vaccine safety in children who are 8 months of age and older.

There are also several precautions that should be considered before receiving this vaccine. Precautions, just technically means that the doctor will decide if the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks involved with the precaution.

Infants who have received blood products should have the vaccine postponed for 6 weeks unless that delay might make the child ineligible for vaccination because of age.

There is no safety information related to the administration of vaccine to infants with pre-existing gastrointestinal disease but vaccine might be considered for these infants if they are not receiving immunosuppressive drugs.

People who are moderately or severely ill should consult with their physician before receiving any vaccine.

Family or household members with cancer or weakened immune systems may rarely become infected with this virus if they have regular close contact with a child who takes this vaccine. People in close contact with your child should practice good hygiene such as washing hands thoroughly after diaper changes and feedings. Consult the doctor for more details.

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This vaccine is not used in adults. Therefore, it is unlikely to be used during pregnancy or by a mother while breast-feeding. Consult the doctor if you have any questions about this vaccine.

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