Forth Valley Babies Offered Rotavirus Vaccine
All babies in Forth Valley, born on or after May 1st this year, are now being offered vaccination against rotavirus.
From July 1st 2013, the vaccine has become part of the routine childhood immunisation programme and will mainly be given in GP surgeries. It will be offered routinely to all infants aged two months and again at three months (that is two doses, four weeks apart.)
Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and young children with mild fever and stomach cramps, and can lead to dehydration. In Scotland there are an estimated 55,000 episodes a year; of these around 1200 babies require hospital treatment.
NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Henry Prempeh said:
Rotavirus is highly contagious and lasts approximately three to eight days. Many children under the age of three can be infected more than once. Whilst most babies recover within a few days, for some children it can lead to dehydration which can be very dangerous. Transmission by the faecal-oral route is most frequent, although respiratory transmission may also occur. Rotavirus in a tiny baby can be particularly debilitating and cause much anxiety for parents.”
The vaccine is given orally as a liquid and protects against the most common strains of the virus. It is not a new vaccine and has been used extensively with millions of doses having been given to babies in other countries. More information is available from: http://www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/
The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine follows a recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. As with any vaccine or medicine newly introduced in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency will closely monitor the use of the Rotarix® vaccine.