Baby's health

New Vaccine For Babies

An oral vaccine that protects babies against a nasty bug that causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea – and sends thousands of kids to hospital each year – will be available this fall in Canada.

child with doctor

RotaTeq, which protects against rotavirus gastroenteritis, is expected by doctors and pharmacists to be distributed in September.

The vaccine is coming to market here after an extensive trial that involved more than 70,000 infants in 11 countries.

The child will take 3 doses and it will give them “the same immunity as if they would have been exposed to the virus two, three times,” the drug company’s medical director, Dr. Ernest Pregent, said from Montreal.

“And if ever they meet again that virus, their symptoms will be quite milder and they won’t be as sick as the kid who either has not been exposed or is not vaccinated.”

The cost of the vaccine, $55 per dose, is not currently covered by provincial health plans.

The oral vaccine comes in a squeezable plastic tube with twist-off cap so the child can suck the liquid. The first dose should be given at six to 12 weeks of age, and four to 10 weeks should elapse before a subsequent dose is given.

“It’s got nice taste, it’s not sugar but it’s got a taste that is pleasant,” said Pregent. “And it’s by mouth, because a lot of parents are saying, ‘Not another needle!’ ”

The vaccine contains five rotavirus strains that are responsible for about 95 per cent of rotavirus disease in Canada, the drug maker said.

Side-effects of the vaccine can include mild fever and loose stools, said Pregent.

The symptoms of rotavirus can be mild to severe and generally last for three to nine days, with up to 20 episodes of diarrhea a day in some cases.

Children can become dehydrated, and sometimes require medical care. It is estimated to cause up to 7,000 hospitalizations, 27,000 emergency room visits and 56,000 doctor visits in Canada each year, Pregent said.

It’s most prevalent from late March until May, when more than three-quarters of hospitalizations for gastroenteritis are linked to rotavirus, he said.

The highly contagious bug is mainly transmitted through fecal-oral contact, and can be spread both before and after a child becomes sick.

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About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!

1 Comment

  • [Posted 02/13/2007] FDA issued a Public Health Notification to inform health care providers and consumers about 28 post-marketing reports of intussusception following administration of Rotavirus, Live, Oral, Pentavalent vaccine (RotaTeq). Intussusception is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the intestine gets blocked or twisted.

    Because vaccine adverse events are not always reported to FDA, there may be additional cases of intussusception following vaccination of which we are unaware. This information is important in helping FDA and CDC assess whether RotaTeq may be associated with an increased risk of intussusception and, if so, to what degree. Healthcare professionals and others are encouraged to report any cases of intussusception or other serious events that may be associated with the use of RotaTeq to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Parents should contact their child’s doctor immediately if the child has stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in their stool or change in their bowel movements, as these may be signs of intussusception.

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