Rotarix is a routine childhood vaccine given by mouth during early infancy. It provides protection from rotavirus, a virus that is a common cause of severe diarrhea in children. The vaccine is given as two separate doses, at least four weeks apart; the second dose should be given before the child turns six months old.
What Is Rotarix?
Rotarix® (rotavirus vaccine) is a childhood vaccine approved to prevent rotavirus. It is given by mouth as a series of two separate doses during early infancy. Rotavirus is a common but potentially serious childhood infection that causes severe diarrhea, sometimes resulting in hospitalization (or even death, in rare cases).
In March 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that this vaccine should not be used, at least temporarily, since DNA from porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV1) has been found in the vaccine. This means that DNA from a virus found in pigs has been found in the vaccine. However, in May 2010, the FDA announced that it is safe to begin using Rotarix again, since PCV1 poses no known health risks to humans.
(Click Rotarix Uses for more information on what the medication is used for, including possible off-label uses.)
Rotarix Vs. RotaTeq and RotaShield
Rotarix and RotaTeq® are the two currently available rotavirus vaccines. Key differences between the two include:
- Rotarix is given as two doses, while RotaTeq requires three doses.
- The Rotarix two-dose series can be completed before the RotaTeq three-dose series.
- Although both vaccines are given by mouth, RotaTeq comes in ready-to-use tubes, while Rotarix requires a little preparation by the healthcare provider (to mix it).
- RotaTeq was approved before Rotarix, so most healthcare providers have more experience with RotaTeq.
- Children with latex allergies should not take Rotarix; this is not a problem with RotaTeq.
- Rotarix protects against the G1, G3, G4, and G9 types of rotavirus, while RotaTeq protects against the G1, G2, G3, and G4 types. As expected, the manufacturers of both vaccines argue that their particular vaccine provides better protection, due to these differences in protection against the various types of rotavirus.
Rotarix is also different from RotaShield®, a previously available rotavirus vaccine that was withdrawn from the market due to the risk of intussusception, a serious side effect. Rotarix (as well as RotaTeq) does not appear to increase the risk of intussusception.