Rotavirus vaccine side effects

Like all vaccines, the rotavirus vaccine can cause side effects, but they're generally mild and short-lived.

Common side effects of the rotavirus vaccine

Babies who have the vaccine can sometimes become restless and irritable, and some may develop mild diarrhoea.

Rare side effects of the rotavirus vaccine

Allergic reaction:

As with all vaccines, there is a very small (approximately one in a million) possibility of the rotavirus vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis after a vaccination is very rare and is a medical emergency. If this does happen, it's quick and usually happens within minutes. The people who give vaccinations are trained to deal with anaphylactic reactions and, with treatment, children recover completely.

Blocked intestine:

In very rare cases (about two in every hundred thousand babies vaccinated), the rotavirus vaccine can affect the baby's lower gut, and they may develop a rare gut disorder called intussusception. This causes a blockage in the intestine.

The symptoms of intussusception are:

  • tummy ache
  • vomiting
  • sometimes passing what looks like redcurrant jelly in their nappy

If this happens, contact your doctor immediately.

Read more about vaccine side effects in babies

This NHS leaflet tells you the common vaccination reactions in babies and young children up to five years old (PDF, 118kb).

What to do if your baby is unwell after the rotavirus vaccine

As with all vaccines, a few babies will have side effects, such as diarrhoea, 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 and is generally not related to the vaccine.

A baby can get rotavirus infection after being vaccinated – but this is uncommon and the illness is usually milder than it would have been if they hadn't been vaccinated.

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

How to report a vaccine side effect

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from a vaccine. It's run by the medicines safety watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Find out how to report a vaccine side effect.

Page last reviewed: 16/04/2017

Next review due: 16/04/2020


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