Unlike most immunisations, rotavirus isn’t given by injection. It's given by mouth (orally) as a liquid. If the baby's sick immediately after the immunisation, the vaccine will be given again.
What vaccine is used?
The Rotarix Oral Applicator is routinely used in Scotland.
How many doses of the vaccine does a baby need?
To get the best protection, a baby should get 2 rotavirus immunisations, 4 weeks apart. The first is given at 8 weeks and the second at 12 weeks of age.
As they get older, some babies (about one in a thousand) get a condition that causes a blockage in their lower gut. It's extremely rare before 3 months of age and most cases occur between the ages of 5 months and 1 year. However, there's a very small chance (around two in every hundred thousand babies vaccinated) that the first dose of the vaccine might also cause this blockage to develop. To reduce this risk, the first dose of the vaccine must be given before 15 weeks of age and babies should have the second dose 4 weeks later, and before 24 weeks. If a child missed either immunisation, speak to your health professional.
How do we know the vaccine is safe?
All medicines (including vaccines) are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they're in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
Are there any reasons a baby shouldn't have the rotavirus vaccine?
There are very few babies who can't receive the rotavirus vaccine.
The vaccine shouldn't be given to babies who:
- have had anaphylactic reactions (severe allergic reaction) to a previous dose of the vaccine or any ingredients of the vaccine
- have certain rare, long-term conditions - for example severe combined immunodeficiency disorder (SCID)