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Rotavirus Vaccine Significantly Cuts Child Hospitalizations, Study Says

Developing and developed countries that require children to be vaccinated against rotavirus “have significantly reduced the number of children admitted to hospitals with the disease, a report showed on Thursday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 1/20).

Study findings, published in a special supplement to the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, note significant declines “in the number of children hospitalized due to rotavirus in countries that include rotavirus vaccines as part of their routine immunization programs,” according to a press release issued by CDC, the GAVI Alliance, PAHO and PATH (1/20).

“Since introducing the vaccine in 2006, the United States has seen a 58 to 86 percent reduction in such hospitalizations over three years, said the study. In Australia, there was a bigger decline of 89 to 94 percent since 2007, and El Salvador saw a 69 to 81 percent drop in hospital visits among children under five. Mexico, which introduced the vaccine in 2007, saw a 40 percent drop in diarrhea-related hospitalizations in 2009,” Agence France-Presse reports (1/20).

The studies “also show large reductions in rotavirus disease among older, unvaccinated children, suggesting that vaccination of babies may also limit the overall amount of virus transmission, giving what is known as ‘herd immunity,'” according to Reuters. “In both the developed and developing worlds, we see a rapid and impressive reduction in rotavirus infections following the roll-out of vaccine,” said John Wecker, director of the vaccine access and delivery global program at PATH. He said the findings should encourage donors and lawmakers to implement the 2009 WHO recommendation, which called for all countries to develop national rotavirus vaccine programs (1/20).

The CDC’s Anne Schuchat praised the vaccine for being “safe, effective and most importantly, saving children’s lives,” AFP writes. “Unfortunately, too many children around the world get severely ill or die from this preventable disease. We must continue to expand our efforts to ensure that children around the world have access to these vaccines,” she said (1/20).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.