Rotavirus vaccines


NOTE: This webpage is the new home of many resources previously listed on PATH’s Rotavirus Vaccine Access and Delivery website ( 

Rotavirus vaccines protect against the leading cause of severe childhood diarrhea, and the World Health Organization recommends their introduction in all countries.1

Rotavirus causes about one-third of child deaths due to diarrhea. Worldwide, 215,000 rotavirus deaths were recorded in 2013, and the vast majority of these occurred in developing countries of Africa and Asia.Nearly every child in the world is at risk, regardless of hygiene, sanitation, or access to clean water. Rotavirus infections cannot be treated with antibiotics or other drugs.Mild rotavirus infections can be treated effectively with oral rehydration therapy until the disease runs its course, but children with severe rotavirus diarrhea urgently need intravenous fluids or they risk dying from dehydration. In low-income countries, this type of urgent health care is often inaccessible or unavailable, making rotavirus prevention through vaccination critical to saving children’s lives.   

Vaccines are the best way to protect children from rotavirus and the dehydrating diarrhea that it can cause.Two globally available rotavirus vaccines are dramatically improving the health and well-being of children around the world by substantially reducing severe diarrhea. Many of the countries that have introduced rotavirus vaccines into their national immunization programs have observed swift and significant declines in hospitalizations and deaths due to rotavirus and other causes of diarrhea.3 The vaccines also are indirectly protecting those who are too young or too old to receive vaccination, through herd immunity.4 Rotavirus vaccines are cost-effective and not only improve child health, but also save lives.

PATH is working with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and other partners to ensure that all children have access to rotavirus vaccines, no matter where they live. We also are collaborating with manufacturers to accelerate the development of new vaccines against rotavirus, as well as other causes of severe diarrhea. As part of an integrated package of interventions that includes ORS, zinc, breastfeeding, nutrition, and sanitation/hygiene, rotavirus vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent death from diarrhea.

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1 WHO. Rotavirus vaccines: WHO Position Paper – January 2013.Weekly Epidemiological Record. 2013;88(5):49-64.

Jacqueline E. Tate, Anthony H. Burton, Cynthia Boschi-Pinto, and Umesh D. Parashar. Global, Regional, and National Estimates of Rotavirus Mortality in Children <5 Years of Age, 2000–2013. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2016;62 (suppl 2): S96-S105. 

3 Patel MM, Parashar US, eds. Real World Impact of Rotavirus Vaccination. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2011;30(1).

4 Anderson E, Shippee D, Weinrobe M, et al. Indirect Protection of Adults From Rotavirus by Pediatric Rotavirus Vaccination. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2013;[e-pub].

Photo: PATH