Issue: October 2011
October 01, 2011
1 min read

Rotavirus vaccine reduces hospitalizations, treatment costs associated with diarrhea

Cortes JE. N Engl J Med. 2011;365:1108-1117.

Issue: October 2011
You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Vaccinating children against rotavirus has resulted in significant declines for all diarrhea-associated hospitalizations and treatment costs, according to a new CDC study.

The study by Jennifer E. Cortes, MD, and colleagues estimated that rotavirus vaccination prevented approximately 65,000 hospitalizations of children aged younger than 5 years. This equates to a savings of nearly $278 million from 2007 to 2009.

“This is good news for parents and our health system overall,” Umesh D. Parashar, MBBS, MPH, medical epidemiologist and viral gastroenteritis team leader of the CDC’s division of viral diseases, said in a press release. “Rotavirus vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent severe diarrhea-related illness in young children and keep them healthy.”

The study analyzed data of a large US insurance database from 2001 to 2009 to assess rotavirus vaccine coverage and its effect on health care use and treatment costs for diarrhea-related illness in children aged younger than 5 years. The study examined direct benefits to vaccinated children and indirect protective benefits to unvaccinated children. National declines in health care use and treatment costs were estimated by applying the declines seen in this study to children of the same age in the US population.

According to the study results, by the end of 2008, 73% of children aged younger than 1 year, 64% of children aged 1 year and 8% of children aged 2 to 4 years had received at least one dose of rotavirus vaccine. Even with one dose of vaccine, rotavirus-related hospitalizations decreased substantially compared with pre-vaccine levels in children aged younger than 5 years. This represents a 75% decline for 2007-2008 and 60% decline for 2008–2009.

Vaccinated children had 44% to 58% fewer diarrhea-related hospitalizations and 37% to 48% fewer ED visits for diarrhea than unvaccinated children from January to June of 2008 and 2009. Even in unvaccinated children, there were substantial declines in health care use during the 2008 rotavirus season compared with pre-vaccine levels.

Pentavalent rotavirus vaccine (RotaTeq, Merck), which was approved for use in 2006, was used for this study.

The researchers wrote that continued surveillance is needed to determine additional direct and indirect vaccine effects, including those of the recently approved rotavirus vaccine (Rotarix, GlaxoSmithKline), on diarrhea-associated health care utilization among US children.

Disclosure: Dr. Cortes and Mr. Parashar report no relevant financial disclosures.

Twitter Follow the on Twitter.