Rotavirus vaccine introduction reduces hospitalizations for infants and children

A study in four hospitals in Botswana found that over a two-year period following the introduction of rotavirus vaccine, hospitalizations from all causes of diarrhea fell by one-third in infants (0-11 months old), and by nearly one-quarter in all children under five years of age. Ninety percent of infants 4-11 months old in the study population received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 75% received both doses during this period. The vaccine’s impact was most apparent during the rotavirus season when the average number of hospitalizations from diarrhea fell 43% among infants and by one-third among all children under five.

Undernourished children have a higher likelihood for diarrhea and pneumonia but immunization can improve infant growth

Multiple studies show that

  1. Diarrhea and pneumonia impair children’s growth and that underlying malnutrition is a major risk factor for these conditions.
  2. “Episodes of diarrhea may predispose to pneumonia in undernourished children” and
  3. Immunization against influenza (in mothers) and Streptococcus pneumoniae may improve infant growth. In addition, new studies from Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, and Israel further support the paradigm that malnutrition is a key risk factor for diarrhea and pneumonia.