Vaccinations

Rotavirus vaccine

An oral vaccine against rotavirus infection, a common cause of diarrhoea and sickness, is given as two doses for babies aged 2 months and 3 months alongside their other routine childhood vaccinations.

The vaccine, called Rotarix, is given as a liquid from a dropper straight into the baby’s mouth for them to swallow.

Rotavirus is a highly infectious stomach bug that typically strikes babies and young children, causing an unpleasant bout of diarrhoea, sometimes with vomiting, tummy ache and fever. Most children recover at home within a few days, but nearly one in five will need to see their doctor, and one in 10 of these end up in hospital as a result of complications such as extreme dehydration. A very small number of children die from rotavirus infection each year.

Read about how rotavirus infection is spread.

Since its introduction into the vaccination programme, the rotavirus vaccine has prevented more than 70% of cases.

Which babies can have the rotavirus vaccination?

Rotavirus vaccination is available routinely on the NHS as part of the childhood vaccination programme for babies aged 2 months and 3 months.

Read more about which babies can have the rotavirus vaccination.

How does the rotavirus vaccine work?

Some of the rotavirus is in the vaccine and this helps your baby build up immunity so that the next time they come into contact with rotavirus they will not get the disease. The rotavirus in the vaccine is weakened, so your baby won’t get rotavirus disease just from having the vaccination.

How effective is the rotavirus vaccine?

The rotavirus vaccine is very effective and gives good immunity to rotavirus infection. Since the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in 2013, cases are down by 69%.

The vaccine is given routinely to children in the US and many other countries around the world in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

How safe is the rotavirus vaccine?

There is lots of evidence showing that rotavirus vaccine is safe. Rotarix has been extensively used in many countries including Belgium, Finland, Austria and Canada for four to five years, and no safety concerns have been raised.

What are the side effects of the rotavirus vaccine?

The vast majority of babies won’t have any problems at all after having their rotavirus vaccination although some babies who have the vaccine may become restless and irritable, and some may develop mild diarrhoea.

It is possible for a baby to get rotavirus infection after being vaccinated – but it's usually milder than it would have been if they hadn’t been vaccinated. They can also get a positive rotavirus test after being vaccinated but this does not usually last for very long – your doctor will not be able to tell whether the positive test is due to the vaccine or the natural infection.

Read more about rotavirus vaccine side effects.

Read the answers to some of the common questions that parents have about the rotavirus vaccine.

Page last reviewed: 23/04/2013

Next review due: 23/04/2015

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 36 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 39 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Skibunny2007 said on 19 June 2014

My daughter was sick after and in between feeds after receiving her first vaccination. She is not normally a baby that suffers with this. My son and daughter (ages 3.5 and 2), also suffered from poorly tummies - my daughter with mild sickness and very pale and loose poo's lasting 5 days, and my son with stomach pains and funny poo's lasting 3 dats. I lost my appetite and suffered from mild stomach pains for almost two weeks. I believe that this may be connected to the vaccine. We have just had the second dose, and two data later, my daughter (12 weeks old), is sick, irritable, and again I have a loss of appetite and stomach pains - I am praying the other family members don't suffer again. We have been ultra careful with changing her nappies as advised, to the point where my hands are raw from washing, but I think that it's more likely that problem may have come from the sickness, where she's got some on me and it's been passed on when I've hugged the other children. I'm sure it's better than her getting the full blown virus, but I wish is been told that there may be these type of side effects as I'm 99% sure that the illnesses we've experienced have been a result of the vaccine.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

UniquelyJo said on 19 June 2014

Hi, my boy had his rotavirus vaccine at 9 weeks and I noticed the difference within 6 hours. Projectile vomiting, drying up (constipation) for 2-3 days then watery diarrhoea, with lots of pain crying and gurgling in his stomach. It's been going through cycles and is in the 6th week. He tested positive for rotavirus just after the 5th week, but most doctors believe that's just the vaccine showing up.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

agui8906 said on 14 June 2014

Dear Gwen10, Stassy01 and Pika_Lou,

My baby had the first lot of rotavirus vaccine and she suffered from a lower gut blockage a few days after the vaccine. She is still suffering from constipation and her bowel movements are very irregular and most of the time she will need a suppository to help her passing stools. Whenever she doesn't poo, she does get very irritable and unstable, she doesn't even sleep properly. She didn't pooped for over 3 days on the first week and the doctor wouldn't give me the prescription for the suppository. he did find a blockage (hard stool) - really? Because I couldn't tell she had a blockage without pooping for 3 days!! And she used to poop 5 times a day and at least 2 of those would leak on her back. I am still taking her to the GP over the same constipation problem and they are still,denying the side effect she is having is from the rotavirus vaccine. I read on the common questions asked in this section that 1 in 1000 infants get this condition and its really rare, but they don't tell you what to do if you child does get it! My GP doesn't seem to be aware of that and the only doctor that gave me any credit is now on holiday and everyone else seems to think I am talking rubbish. She is due the second,lot of vaccine next Tuesday and I am,really tempted to refuse that dose, but I don't know what to do! Any suggestions? If Kathryn from NHS choices is reading this, I would really like to talk to someone who could help! I have already asked to be referred to a pediatrician but wont get an appointment in time before the vaccine is due. Can she still take I before 15 weeks, in case the pediatrician says its ok to take it? I am so lost!! Please somebody help me!
Thanks!!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Pika_Lou said on 05 April 2014

I'm the same as Gwen10 and Stassy01, although I don't expect a reply seeing that they have also been ignored.

My baby has been very content until she had the rotavirus vaccine. She wasn't very fussy or sicky and fed and slept well.

Since the vaccine 5 days ago she has quite clearly been in a lot of pain from the moment she takes any milk from me.

She feeds approx every 3 hours she is screaming for at least 30 mins after each feed no matter how brief it might be.

No one suggested this could happen. There is nothing mild about her irritability and I'm left wondering how long her suffering might last.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

LondonMum said on 19 February 2014

Our little one also had a similar bad time after the Rotarix vaccine. 2 weeks of screaming/unsettled/wanting to be held followed by 2 weeks of diarrhoea & a positive for Rotavirus from microbiology. She was 'well' with the diarrhoea & I'm sure it was milder than having the virus without the vaccine, but a horrible time all round.
I wish my medical professionals & this page had given more warning of this possibility as it's very worrying as a new mum & the babies have this vaccine so young.
Being unwell following this particular vaccine seems more common than the advice being given out?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 06 February 2014

Dear Gwen 10, Stassy 01 and Kathy 81,

Sorry to hear your babies were unwell after receiving the rotavirus vaccine. As with all vaccines, a few infants will have side effects though in general these are mild and short-lived. The vast majority of babies won’t have any problems at all. Also, bear in mind that diarrhoea and vomiting in babies is common anyway and so mostly not related to the vaccine.

A baby can get rotavirus infection after being vaccinated – but it is usually milder than it would have been if they hadn’t been vaccinated. They can also get a positive rotavirus test after being vaccinated but this does not usually last for very long – your doctor will not be able to tell whether the positive test is due to the vaccine or the natural infection

If your baby is very unwell and / or the illness is going on a long time or you're concerned in any way about their health following vaccination, please see your doctor.

Hope this helps,
Kathryn, NHS Choices editor




Best wishes,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathy81 said on 05 February 2014

Hello, my daughter had her first Rotavirus dose over a month ago and is still suffering with unusual and foul smelling stools and vomiting along with cold and cough. I recently took her to the Doctors,where they took a stool sample and she tested positive for Rotavirus. This is surely from the vaccine but how long will it stay in her system? She is otherwise well in herself and breast feeding well but concerned that the live virus is hanging around in her system a bit too long. Thanks.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Stassy01 said on 04 February 2014

Gwen10 I have exactly the same issue, my little one is still irritable 2 weeks on. She was just starting to get over colic and be more comfortable when she had her vaccines. Since the rotavirus vaccine she has been very uncomfortable, screaming most of the day, doesn't like to be in her bouncer anymore, likes to be flat. not sleeping properly, not feeding properly (also BF) so much so that she hasn't gained any weight in the past two weeks. She is constantly wriggling and not latching properly, crying mid feed and will rarely feed for more then 10 mins. Plus because of this she is sucking in air making her tummy worse. I don't know what to do, HV are no help and looked at me as if I was talking gibberish when I explained how bad she is. I think I won't be giving her the second dose.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 04 February 2014

Dear Charlie 1977,

There's no need for a delay between receiving the rotavirus vaccine and going swimming. The rotavirus vaccine contains a virus that's been weakened (attenuated) so it's unlikely to survive the infection control processes in swimming pools that are designed to kill off stomach bugs.

As long as babies are not unwell (fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.) then they should be able to use swimming pools straight after rotavirus vaccination.

Hope that helps,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Charlie1977 said on 31 January 2014

I have recently had the second rotavirus vaccine and was told on both occasions by the nurse that we must not go swimming for 8 weeks after the latest vaccine. This seems to be inconsistent with what you say ok your site and what others have said and so I questioned this with her and she said that others are wrong as its a live virus passed via urine or stools. Could you confirm there is no risk with my baby or other babies spreading this through swimming pools and that my nurse is incorrect ?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Gwen10 said on 29 January 2014

Dear Kathryn,

My daughter received her first dose of the rota vaccine at 9 weeks. The day after her vaccinations she was highly irritable but I wasn't too concerned since it is a common side effect. However, she also became constipated shortly after, although being breast fed, and is still irregular with her bowel movements 3 weeks later. She is in pain every time she feeds and as a result, hasn't been feeding very well. Is this a well-known side effect? Has anyone else had this experience? I think I will decline the second dose as I am afraid of a further reaction. Any advice is much appreciated.

Thanks,

Gwen

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 02 December 2013

Dear Rosy1811,

Don't worry - this is definitely not a problem. Your child has in effect been vaccinated with a short interval between the first and second dose and then the third dose will have acted as a normal booster. If an additional dose of vaccines has been given, this will not be a problem either and will simply be another further booster. No harm will have been done and your son will be very well protected!

Best wishes,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Rosy1811 said on 28 November 2013

My child has been given his second lot of vaccinations too early, including the rotavirus. I'm concerned now as the nurse has admitted it's her error but says he needs to have extra immunisations now? Should I have these extra vaccinations or not? I don't know what to do, what are the implications of him having them all four times instead of the advised two. Can this harm him later on in life? I feel as though I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place as to what to do next. Can anyone help me?Has this happened to you? Thanks in advance.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 07 November 2013

Dear Hanipal,
The first dose of rotavirus vaccine should not be given after 15 weeks of age and no vaccine should be given after 24 weeks. So it's too late for your daughter, I’m afraid.
Best wishes,
Kathryn

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Hanipal said on 28 October 2013

Dear Kathryn,

My Daughter was born 11/05/2013 , and because we are abroad we couldn't find the Rota Vaccin at all here, now we found in a pharamcy , so if it safe to give here the first dose now (she is 22 Weeks now) and if it safe when should be the second dose, she will take her 3rd set of immunisations by 11/11/2013

thanks

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 22 August 2013

Dear wazzzo,
Yes, it's been used in babies. The rotavirus vaccine is only suitable for babies.
Regards, Kathryn

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

wazzzo said on 21 August 2013

Kathryn
In the last paragraph it says that the vaccine has been used extensively in other countries. Can you confirm that this statement holds true for babies or is it a general stat for the vaccine in all ages?
Thanks

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 16 August 2013

Dear danit01,

It's ok for your baby to have rotavirus vaccine at 17 weeks provided second dose is given by 24 weeks, and ideally four weeks after the first. The NHS programme recommends first rotavirus vaccine dose by 15 weeks, so GPs aren't obliged to give it on the NHS after then, but if your surgery will do, that's great.

Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

danit01 said on 15 August 2013

Hello, my baby boy is 17 weeks old today and just back from getting his 3rd set of immunisations. The nurse and doctor advised that my baby should get rotavirus vaccination as he will still be under 24 weeks when he gets his 2nd dose.
Should i be worried as all documention advise that this should not be given after 15 weeks? Whereas my baby has had his 1st dose at 17 weeks!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 13 August 2013

Dear adaja,
That's ok. He can have his second dose 4 weeks after the first (and technically up to 24 weeks), even though the first dose was given after 15 weeks. Though this would not be as part of the NHS programme.
Kathryn, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

adaja said on 12 August 2013

My baby was born on the 24th April and had his 2nd set of immunisations today 15+5. I was told about the Rota vaccine and my baby was given it. It was the first dose. Now I have been reading about it and noticed it should have been given before 15 weeks.I'm a bit concerned if this can cause problems?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 07 August 2013

Dear angangm,

She can have it at her next vaccination appointment at 3 months.

Kathryn, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

angangm said on 06 August 2013

My daughter had her 8 week vaccination s yesterday and I passed on tge rotarix as I wasn't previously informed about it. I now want her to have it. Can it be administered at any time now prior to 15 weeks (can she have it tomorrow) or should I wait until her second set (12 weeks) to have the first dose given?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 30 July 2013

Eligibility clarification:

If your baby is under 15 weeks old but was born before May 1st 2013, they do not automatically qualify for rotavirus vaccination as part of the NHS childhood programme. Individual GP surgeries may, however, provide rotavirus vaccination to babies in this age-group at their own discretion.

Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kelliejo said on 25 July 2013

My son was born 19/04 and when I went yesterday for his second vaccinations the nurse actually told me about the vaccine as I didn't know it had been introduced. After discussing it I decided to go ahead with it. He is 14 weeks tomorrow. As I understand as long as they have the first dose before 16 weeks then they can have the vaccine as the two doses must be given prior to 24 weeks. Normally it will be offered with the first and second vaccines.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

kitty1988 said on 25 July 2013

My little girl was born 17/4/13 and I requested she have the rotavirus vaccine with her second set of imms yesterday. The nurse was absolutely fine about it and gave it her.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

RJD87 said on 22 July 2013

After reading this page I contacted my doctors to book my LO in for this as she was born 13/4/13 to be told that they don't give this vaccination at all yet to anyone regardless of when they were born

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 17 July 2013

Sum Bob: Rotarix can only be prescribed up to 24 weeks, whether on the NHS or privately.
Thanks,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 17 July 2013

Hi goode2shoes and Skyebo86,

The Dept of Health decided to extend rotavirus vaccination to babies under 15 weeks even if born before May 1st very recently and in response to parental request, so this info may not have filtered down to GPs.

If your GP isn't aware of the changes and is uncertain whether to vaccinate or not, refer them to this page - NHS Choices reflects govt immunisation policy.

They can also check on the ImmForm website (www.immform.dh.gov.uk) which is the government’s vaccine ordering facility.

All best,
Kathryn at NHS Choices

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Sum Bob said on 16 July 2013

My baby is 23 weeks old. Can she still receive the first dose of the vaccine if I paid privately or do both doses have to be given by 24 weeks? If she can have the vaccination privately, from where may that be obtained?

I realise and appreciate that there has to be a cut off however, had I been told that my daughter would not be eligible when she had her 3rd immunisations, I would have sourced the vaccination privately. I was of the impression that she would be given the vaccination at 12/13 months. Very misleading.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Skyebo86 said on 15 July 2013

HHi

My daughter is due her 2nd vaccinations on Wednesday and i have phoned the doctors to check that she will receive the rotavirus vaccine and been told that because she was born before 1st May that she is not eligible even though your website says that babies upto 15 weeks old will receive it. So why can't we get it if were entitled to it???

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

goode2shoes said on 15 July 2013

Hi Kathryn,
I was wondering where this updated information has come from so that I can refer my GP practice to it. My son is 13 weeks old today and because he was born on 15/04/13 he was refused the vaccine even though I specifically requested it.
Thanks

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 05 July 2013

Hi everyone,

GPs have now been told they can give the rotavirus vaccine to babies born before May 1st providing they are under 15 weeks old.

Mummypritch: yes, you can get the vaccine privately.

Thanks,
Kathryn, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

mummypritch said on 04 July 2013

I am very keen for my 12 week old baby to have the rotavirus immunisation but she was born "too early" to be eligible. My son is in nursery and brings home all sorts of bugs. Is there any way I can pay to have it done privately? It really worries me that my daughter is in danger of catching a virus that could potentially kill her when there is no reason for her not to have the immunisation.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

1emmalu said on 04 July 2013

My little girl was given the first dose today with her second round of vaccinations. She is 12 weeks, born early April. My GP is offering it to everyone having second vaccinations where the baby is under the 14/15 week cut off (if the first dose is given after that I think there is a higher chance of gut problems).

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

1emmalu said on 04 July 2013

My little girl is 12 weeks, born early April and has just been given the rotavirus vaccine. My GP is offering it to all babies coming for second vaccinations who are younger than the 14 / 15 week cut off for having the first dose, after which there is a higher chance of gut problems, I think.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

s1one said on 04 July 2013

GDEard- i would query this further. My daughter was born in april 13 and her first rotovirus vaccine this week

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 03 July 2013

Dear GDEArd,

Sorry your baby girl isn't eligible for the rotavirus vaccine but it's restricted to babies born on or after May 1st 2013. If a baby qualifies, they can then have their first dose up to 15 weeks of age.

The line of eligibility had to be drawn somewhere to save GPs being swamped with requests for the vaccine and a shortage in supplies.

Kind regards,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

GDEArd said on 02 July 2013

I took my baby for her second set of immunisations today and was told that only babies born after May 1st could have it. She is 12 weeks old and misses out by 3 weeks. In this article it says they can have the first dose up to 15 weeks so why have I been refused the vaccine?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

NHS childhood vaccination programme

Find out which vaccinations are offered to all children on the NHS and at what age

Gastroenteritis in children

What you can do if your child has sickness and diarrhoea

Diarrhoea and vomiting in children

What causes diarrhoea and vomiting in children and how to treat it

Pregnancy and baby

All you need to know about pregnancy, birth and looking after a baby, including feeding and trying to get pregnant

Image alt text

Get pregnancy and baby emails

Sign up for week-by-week emails about your pregnancy and baby, with advice from experts, mums and dads