February 21, 2006
Millions of children could be adding a new vaccine to the already long list of shots they get as infants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is expected to decide whether infants should be vaccinated against Rotavirus, the #1 cause of severe dehydration and diarrhea among young children in the U.S.
"All children have had it at least once by three years of age," said Dr. Rob Trundle, of the Pediatric Associates Charlottesville.
Rotavirus leads to around a quarter of a million emergency room visits every year. Kids suffer from a fever, severe diarrhea and dehydration.
That will likely change since studies show the new vaccine, Rotateq, can prevent 98% of infections.
But even with that high percentage, Pediatricians like Dr. Trundle are a little skeptical about recommending it to their patients.
"I think that a lot of physicians are kind of uncomfortable, they want to make sure that this is the right thing to do before we do it," said Dr. Trundle.
Dr. Trundle is not sure because this isn't the first vaccine drug companies have developed for the virus. Another called Rotashield was pulled off the market in 1999 after it was linked to intestinal problems.
Developers of the new vaccine Rotateq said studies show it causes no harm. "You have a vaccine which works, which is safe, and which doesn't appear to have any even mild side effects," said Dr. Paul Offit.
Experts believe the advisory panel will vote in favor of the vaccination, but, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control will consider the committee's recommendation before making the final decision.
Unlike other childhood vaccinations, Rotateq is not a shot. It's a liquid given to kids orally at two, four and six months of age.