The Rotateq vaccine was introduced to the U.S. market in 2006; it is used to prevent gastroenteritis caused by the Rotavirus virus. Rotavirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea in infants and young children. The subsequent dehydration often cause hospitalizations. This live vaccine is used in infants and is administered orally in a three dose regimen. It is theorized that because this is a live vaccine, patients who are immunized cannot catch the virus and therefore cannot spread the virus. This produces a “herd immunity”; in other words, non-immunized are also protected. The hospitalization rate for any cause of gastroenteritis were reduced by 16% in 2007, and reduced by 48% in 2008.
A previous Rotavirus vaccine called Rotashield caused a type of bowel obstruction called intussuception. Rotashield has been discontinued. Rotateq had been studied extensively and has not shown any association with intussuception.
Another Rotavirus vaccine called Rotarix was recently in the news because of some contamination of the vaccine. It was initially recommended to hold off use of this vaccine; however on May 14, 2010, the FDA revised its its recommendation and after analysis and discussion with experts, it was determined that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks from the contaminants.