Rotavirus vaccine to protect infants and children from severe diarrhoea


Unlike common diarrhoea, Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea in infants and young children.


Did you know?

Diarrhoea. Vomiting. Fever. And a baby who can't tell you what's wrong.

Rotavirus, a virus that affects the gut (stomach and intestine)1, is the leading cause of diarrhoea hospitalisations among children worldwide2. Study in Kuala Lumpur Hospital & Hospital Umum Sarawak (2001-2003) shows that 38% of diarrhoea-related hospitalisations are caused by rotavirus infections.3 Rotavirus (also referred to as rotavirus gastroenteritis) is a very common and contagious disease affecting 95% of children by the age of 5 years.4

Don't let your baby suffer from Rotavirus.

In a Malaysian study, 72% of the rotavirus-associated diarrhoea occurred in children under 2 years of age.3 Highest rate of rotavirus-associated diarrhoea was seen in the 6-17 month age group (55%).3 Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea disease in young children worldwide, irrespective of the socio-economic class.5

Myths vs Facts


Diarrhoea is only a problem in developing countries.


Although rotaviruses are estimated to cause as many as one million deaths annually among infants and young children under 5 years of age in developing nations, morbidity rates are similar in developed and developing countries6. Almost every child in the world will suffer from diarrhoea caused by rotavirus gastroenteritis before the age of five, with some cases leading to severe illness7.


Diarrhoea will generally clear up in a day or so.


Sometimes this can be the case, but children suffering from rotavirus gastroenteritis can have diarrhoea which last for up to a week6. Symptoms or diarrhoea can lead to other health conditions such as dehydration and malnutrition8.


Rotavirus and Its Symptoms

Once someone has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for the symptoms to appear9:

Rotavirus Symptoms

Additional symptoms including the loss of appetite and dehydration (loss of body fluids) can be more serious for infants and young children9. Infants between 3-24 months are more likely to suffer severe infections7. Adults who are infected with rotavirus tend to have milder symptoms9.

Almost all babies who get rotavirus vaccine will be protected from severe rotavirus diarrhoea12.

Children who are not vaccinated usually have more severe symptoms when they first encounter the disease13. For early protection against rotavirus, rotavirus vaccine can be administered as soon as your baby turns 6 weeks old14.

Rotavirus can lead to dehydration especially in young children, older adults and people with other illnesses15.

Be wary of the symptoms of dehydration in you and your family members15:

  • Decreased urination
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Crying with few or no tears and
  • Unusual sleepiness or fussiness

Protect against dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids15. If you or your family member is severely dehydrated, talk to your doctor.

How it spreads

Rotavirus spreads easily.

Rotavirus is easily transmitted by the oral-faecal route, both through close person-to-person contact and contact with contaminated environmental surfaces4. Rotavirus can stay alive on contaminated surfaces for days because of its resistant nature.16

Rotavirus spreads easily

Rotavirus can strike the whole family.

A study shows that among 102 adults caring for children with rotavirus infection, 36 adults were infected17. When a child is infected with rotavirus, other members in the family may be affected as well. Adults, especially caregivers who are in contact with children are at particularly high risk of infection17.

Evidence suggests that even casual contact may spread the disease from children to adults17. Exposure to children infected with rotavirus in a playgroup has resulted in adults being infected. Such infections have also been reported among hospital staff in paediatric wards17.

Don't let you and your child become victims of rotavirus. Prevent the suffering early.

Impact on health

Impact on health

There are no antiviral therapies available, except supportive treatment primarily aimed at replacing lost fluid from dehydration where hospitalization is often necessary4.

Get protected

What can you do to protect against rotavirus?

Your doctor may recommend medicine to treat the symptoms but there is no specific medicine to treat rotavirus infection15.

What can you do to protect against rotavirus


  • Parashar UD, Burton A, Lanata C, et al. Global mortality associated with rotavirus disease among children in 2004. J Infect Dis 2009; 200 Suppl 1: S9-S15.
  • Parashar UD et al. Rotavirus and severe childhood diarrhoea; Emerg Infect Dis; 2006, February; Volume 12; 2; 304-306.
  • Hung LC et al. Int J Infect Dis 2006; 10:470-4.
  • Bernstein D et al. Rotavirus Overview; The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal; Pediatr Infect Dis J; 2009, March, Volume 28; 3; 550-53.
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. ECDC Expert opinion on rotavirus vaccination in infancy. Stockholm: ECDC; 2017.
  • Linhares AC, Bresee JS. Rotavirus vaccines and vaccination in Latin America. The Pan American Journal of Public Health. 2000;8(5):305-30.
  • Penelope H.D. Rotavirus vaccines: an overview. Clinical Microbiology Review. 2008;21(1):198-208.
  • WHO. The Treatment of Diarrhoea [online] 2005. Available from (Last accessed Sep 2021).
  • CDC. Rotavirus: Symptoms; Available from (Last accessed Sep 2021).
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 1997. Oral Vaccine Protects Infants from Severe Rotavirus Diarrhoea First Success in a Developing Country. ScienceDaily; Available from (Last accessed Sep 2021).
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; Tools for healthier lives: Rotavirus; Available from (Last accessed Sep 2021).
  • CDC;2019;1-2;Rotavirus vaccine: What you need to know; Available from: (Last accessed Sep 2021).
  • Velázquez FR, et al. The New England journal of medicine;1996;335;1022-8.
  • Cortese M et al. Prevention of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis Among Infants and Children Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP); Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 2009, February, Volume 58, 2; 1-25.
  • CDC. Rotavirus: Treatment; Available from (Last accessed Sep 2021).
  • Mrukowicz J, Szajewska H, Vesikari T. Options for the prevention of rotavirus disease other than vaccination. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2008; 46 Suppl 2: S32-7.
  • Anderson EJ, Weber SG. Rotavirus infection in adults. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2004, February, Volume 4; 95-96.
  • Domingo et al. The impact of childhood acute rotavirus gastroenteritis on the parents' quality of life: prospective observational study in European primary care medical practices. BMC Pediatrics; 2012, May, Volume 58; 2.
  • World Health Organization. Weekly epidemiological record. 2013; 88: 49-64.

We use cookies

GSK values your privacy and your trust is important to us. We use cookies to enhance your website experience. Some cookies are necessary to run the website. Others are optional: performance cookies show us how you use our website andfeatures; functional cookies remember your preferences; and advertising cookies help us share relevant content. Cookie Policy