Rotavirus Immunisation

Rotavirus Immunisation

Immunisation protects against rotavirus - a common tummy bug that pēpi (babies) and tamariki (children) catch easily. Rotavirus causes vomiting and diarrhoea (runny, watery poo).

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Key points about rotavirus immunisation

  • rotavirus is a common tummy bug that most often affects pēpi and young tamariki
  • rotavirus causes vomiting, diarrhoea (runny, watery poo) which can lead to dehydration, and fever
  • some tamariki get so sick they need to go to hospital
  • the rotavirus vaccine protects against rotavirus
  • immunisation against rotavirus will protect around 8 out of 10 pēpi from severe rotavirus infection
  • almost all tamariki who are not immunised get a rotavirus infection before they are 5 years old

When can my baby have rotavirus immunisation?

At their 6 week and 3 month immunisations

Pēpi can have the rotavirus vaccine as part of their free 6 week and 3 month immunisations.

Pēpi need 2 doses for full protection against rotavirus.

Your baby needs both doses before they're 25 weeks old

If you miss the 6 week and 3 month immunisations, you can catch up. But your baby needs the first rotavirus vaccine before 15 weeks of age and the second dose before they're 25 weeks old. 

Your baby can't have the rotavirus vaccine after 25 weeks because the risk of serious reactions increases after this age.

How does my baby have the rotavirus vaccine?

Your baby will have the rotavirus vaccine as liquid drops into their mouth which they swallow.

Are there any reactions to the rotavirus vaccine?

The most common reaction to the rotavirus vaccine is a slight fever.

Some other common reactions to the rotavirus vaccine

  • not feeding as usual
  • crying, being upset, and hard to settle
  • mild diarrhoea (runny/watery poo - within 7 days)
  • vomiting (being sick - within 7 days)
  • tummy pain

Serious reactions

There is a small risk of intussusception from receiving rotavirus immunisation, usually in the first week after immunisation.

Intussusception is a rare condition where one part of the bowel slides inside the next (like a telescope) and causes a blockage.

Check some information about intussusception

Contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately if your baby has any of the following symptoms after immunisation.

Tummy pain

Severe crying caused by tummy pain. The pain may be colicky and not continuous, but it comes back often. Your baby may draw their knees to their chest while crying.

Vomiting

The vomit can become green (caused by bile in the vomit).

Blood in the poo

The poo may have the appearance of 'redcurrant jelly', which is a mix of mucus, cells and blood.

Other symptoms

  • pale skin colour
  • being unusually tired or floppy, and not interested in surroundings (lethargic)

The overall benefits of immunisation far outweigh the very small risk of intussusception.

See more KidsHealth content on immunisation

Check out KidsHealth's section on immunisation

Screenshot of KidsHealth website immunisation section

This page last reviewed 15 March 2021.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it