Pediatric rotavirus vaccination also indirectly protects unvaccinated adults from the highly contagious cause of severe diarrhea and vomiting, suggests a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online. The findings suggest pediatric immunization against the virus may be more cost effective than previously thought, given rotavirus-related health care costs among adults.
Before the vaccine, rotavirus caused an estimated 24 million outpatient visits, 2.4 million hospitalizations, and 453,000 deaths in infants and young children worldwide each year. Following the introduction of the pediatric rotavirus vaccine in the United States, declines in the disease have been seen in both vaccinated and unvaccinated children.
Evan J. Anderson, MD, now at Emory University, and a team of researchers at Northwestern Memorial and Children's Memorial Hospitals in Chicago looked into whether the vaccine's benefits extended to unvaccinated adults. They compared the prevalence and genotypes of rotavirus in stool samples collected from approximately 3,500 adults before widespread implementation of pediatric rotavirus vaccination (2006-2007) with the prevalence in samples collected from 2008 to 2010. The researchers found the number of unvaccinated adults who had rotavirus was almost halved in the years after the vaccine was introduced for use in children in the U.S.