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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's a very small (approximately 1 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 it does happen, it's usually quick and 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 2 in every 100,000 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.

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, although in general these are mild and short-lived. The majority of babies will not 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 had not 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 GP.

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 April 2017
Next review due: 16 April 2020