Fourth Year Medicine (Postgraduate)
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics,
Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine,
James Cook University (in progress)
Background: Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children and two vaccines to prevent rotavirus infection have been licensed since 2006. The World Health Organisation recommends the inclusion of rotavirus vaccination of infants in all national immunisation programs. Aim: To review current literature evaluating the global impact of rotavirus immunisation programs over the first two years of their implementation. Methods: A MEDLINE search was undertaken to identify relevant observational studies. Results: Eighteen relevant studies were identified which had been carried out in eight countries. Introduction of the vaccine was associated with a reduction in all-cause gastroenteritis hospitalisation rates of 12- 78% in the target group and up to 43% in older groups ineligible for the vaccine. Hospitalisation rates for confirmed rotavirus cases ranged between 46-87% in the target group. Mortality from all-cause gastroenteritis was reduced by 41% and 45% in two countries studied. Conclusions: Early research evaluating rotavirus immunisation programs suggests significant decreases in diarrhoeal disease rates extending beyond the immunised group. Further monitoring will allow vaccine performance to be optimised and for the long-term effect of vaccination programs to be assessed.