Home | News | Baby gastroenteritis cases down 75% since rotavirus vaccine

Baby gastroenteritis cases down 75% since rotavirus vaccine

Australia's free childhood vaccination program for rotavirus has dramatically cut the illness in young children.

The vaccine was introduced into the national immunisation program in 2007, with the aim of decreasing the social and economic burden of rotavirus. The program provides free vaccinations to children aged two and four months.

A study published in the journal Vaccine found that the number of cases presenting each year has more than halved since 2007.

The study compared the average weekly rate of children aged under 5 presenting with gastroenteritis at NSW emergency departments over five years to 2011 that could be attributed to rotavirus.

In the fourth year of the program, presentations for rotavirus were 77 per cent lower than the pre-vaccination average, at 996 versus 4300 presentations each year.

Dr Heather Davey from NSW Health said the study is a reminder of the importance of vaccinating babies against rotavirus.

"The drop in ED presentations, together with the substantial decline in rotavirus hospitalisations observed nationally in the under 5 age group, provides comprehensive evidence of the substantial benefit of vaccination on rotavirus disease," Davey said.

Listen below to hear from senior author associate professor Kristine Macartney from the University of Sydney and The Children's Hospital at Westmead, deputy director of Government Programs at the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance.

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