Rotavirus

When should I immunize my child to protect against Rotavirus?

Your child is recommended to receive the immunization that will protect him or her against Rotavirus, at the following ages:

Dose 1

2 Months

Dose 2

4 Months

See full schedule

NOTE: If your child does not start the Rotavirus vaccine schedule before 20 weeks of age, he or she will not be eligible to receive this vaccine at all.

First dose of this vaccine can be administered up to 19 weeks and six days of age.

Second dose of this vaccine can be administered up to 31 weeks and 6 days. 

Rotavirus quick facts:

Rotavirus is a viral infection, easily spread through contact with the stool (feces) of an infected person, or even if a child touches toys, change tables or other surfaces that have been contaminated with the stool of an infected person.

Only a very small amount of exposure to Rotavirus can make your child sick.

95% of unimmunized children will get Rotavirus at least once, by three to five years of age.

In Canada, Rotavirus infections are more common in the winter months (between December and May), with the majority of cases in March and April. It is still a real risk, all year long.

Worldwide, more than 500,000 deaths in young children are caused, each year, by Rotavirus.

Rotavirus is often spread through diaper changing, if proper hand washing and cleaning of the change area hasn’t happened.

What can happen to my child if he or she gets Rotavirus?

If your child gets Rotavirus, he or she will get a fever, followed by severe vomiting and watery diarrhea that can last up to a week. Rotavirus can also cause your child to get dehydrated, or develop what is called an “electrolyte imbalance”. This can result in your child needing hospital care. Sadly, Rotavirus can even lead to death.

About the immunization:

Rotavirus can be prevented through immunization.

The vaccine that protects your child against Rotavirus is called the Rotarix vaccine.

When your child gets the Rotarix vaccine, your child’s immune system will be prompted to build antibodies that protect – or “arm” – your child against Rotavirus.

The Rotavirus vaccine is given to your child as a liquid that your child will swallow.

The vaccine is a live vaccine; however, your child cannot get Rotavirus from the Rotavirus vaccine.

Safety

Your child cannot get Rotavirus, or any other diseases, from the Rotavirus vaccine.

This vaccine is safe, and provides your child with protection against Rotavirus, which is definitely not safe.

The risk that Rotavirus poses to your child’s health is far greater than any risk related to immunizing your child against Rotavirus.

Rotavirus vaccine has been used in the United States since 2006, and is now also approved for use in Canada.

Safety checks before immunization

Your nurse will talk to you about your child’s health history before giving your child any vaccines. This will include questions about any medicines your child is taking, health conditions your child has or is experiencing, as well as any allergies your child may have. Your nurse will guide you on what is safe for your child, based on your child’s health history. When your nurse talks to you about your child’s health history, it is important that you inform your nurse if your child:

  • is sick or has a fever greater than 38.5 C (101.3 F)
  • is allergic to any foods, drugs, bee stings, etc.
  • has allergies to any part of the vaccine, to your knowledge
  • has a weakened immune system (immune compromised)
  • has a chronic bowel (gastrointestinal) condition
  • has had an allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) or other severe or unusual reaction to this or other vaccines in the past

Your nurse will guide you on what is safe for your child, based on your child’s health history.

Learn more about general vaccine safety here.

What might my child experience after immunization?

Reactions to Rotovirus vaccine are usually mild, go away within a few days, and may include:

  • feeling irritable or crying
  • fever
  • poor appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • cough, runny nose

Unexpected or unusual reactions can happen after being immunized. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.

If your child has severe stomach pain, constant vomiting, blood in his or her stool (feces), a swollen stomach (abdomen) area and/or very high fever within 7 days following Rotavirus immunization, it’s important that you call your doctor or Health Link Alberta (at 811) to discuss.

How can I manage my child’s symptoms after immunization?

No matter your child’s age, it is normal for him or her to experience some common, mild and temporary symptoms after immunization.

Here are a few tips to manage these mild symptoms:

  • Fever. If you need medicine for fever or pain, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Follow the instructions on the medicine package carefully. If you are not sure whether your child’s fever is related to the immunization, dial 811 for Health Link or talk to your doctor or pharmacist, before giving your child medicine. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 19 years of age. Aspirin increases the risk of a rare but serious disease called Reye Syndrome.
  • Swelling or redness around injection point. Put a cool moist cloth on the area for about 10 to 20 minutes. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you need medicine to help relieve the discomfort. Follow the instructions on the medicine package carefully.
  • Fretfulness and poor appetite. Sometimes a child may be fretful, drowsy and refuse to eat for a few hours after immunization. Plan to relax in a quiet environment at home after immunization. Hold and cuddle your child when needed, and remember to keep the temperature at a comfortable level – your child is more likely to be fretful if he or she gets too warm.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting. Give breast milk or formula so that your baby remains well hydrated.

Severe allergic reactions after immunization are rare, occurring at an estimated annual rate of only one to ten per one million doses of vaccine administered, and can be treated. Our nurses will ask that you stay with your child, in the immunization clinic, for at least 15 minutes after your child receives his or her immunizations. For the dose that your child receives in school, the nurse will also require your child to stay for at least 15 minutes after his or her immunization. This will allow the nurse to identify and treat any immediate allergic reaction that could occur.

PLEASE NOTE: If your child has severe stomach pain, constant vomiting, blood in his or her stool (feces), a swollen stomach (abdomen) area and/or very high fever following Rotavirus immunization, it’s important that you call your doctor or Health Link Alberta (at 811) to discuss.