A little piece in the New York Times caught my eye today about rotavirus. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/health/research/08prev.html?_r=1&ref=health&oref=slogin. For those of you who don’t know about rotavirus, let me remind you of the absolute worst case of the stomach flu you have ever had, not the one that lasted a day or two but the one that lasted a week, with vomiting and profuse diarrhea and you are getting the idea of rotavirus. Now imagine that you get this diarrheal illness as an infant, think about how dangerous that would be with dehydration so quick to happen. Well, my friends there is good news! The vaccine that prevents rotavirus in infants is working amazingly well. Last year the number of positive cases of rotavirus fell over 75% from the year before and was at an historic low.
I queried and old friend who is the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital about their experience and it is exactly the same. It is possible of course that this was a very mild year for rotavirus but the precipitous drop implies a concrete benefit from the vaccine.
The rotavirus vaccine is an oral vaccine (not a shot) and can only be given to infants. The three vaccine series needs to be begun before 12 weeks of age and completed by eight months of age with each dose about 2 months apart. It cannot be started after 12 weeks of age. The vaccine is incredibly well tolerated and apparently incredibly effective too. The vaccine has been available for about 2 years but I only started offering it this past spring since I wanted to ensure some experience with the vaccine since it was brand new and not biologically like others already given. I will be strongly urging my new babies to get it. It seems there is an added benefit for the rest of us too. The fewer infants with disease means fewer adults with the disease! Nice added benefit!
Here is another vaccine success story without any downside!
Eat, love and play and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center