Patient & Family Education Materials

Start over with a New Search

Your Child's Immunizations: Rotavirus Vaccine (RV)

Article Translations: (Spanish)

What Is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a common virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. It usually affects infants and young children. Childcare centers are a common site of outbreaks.

Rotavirus Immunization Schedule

The vaccine is a liquid given by mouth. Children get it at ages 2 and 4 months, and again at 6 months, depending on the brand of vaccine used.

The rotavirus vaccines are live attenuated vaccines, which means they contain a weakened form of the virus.

Why Is the Rotavirus Vaccine Recommended?

Rotavirus can cause severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. Some kids who get it need care in a hospital. Besides protecting children who get the vaccine, immunization can help stop the spread of rotavirus in a community.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Rotavirus Immunization?

Side effects can include diarrhea, vomiting, and a fever.

When to Delay or Avoid Rotavirus Immunization

The vaccine is not recommended if your child:

  • is currently sick. But simple colds or other minor illnesses should not prevent immunization.
  • had a serious allergic reaction to an earlier dose of the vaccine. Tell your doctor if your child has an allergy to latex, as one of the rotavirus vaccine brands has a latex applicator.
  • has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a genetic disorder
  • had intussusception, a type of bowel blockage, in the past

Ask your doctor if the vaccination is OK if your child:

  • has a digestive system problem or a gastrointestinal disease
  • has immune system problems from a disease such as cancer
  • takes steroids, or other drugs that weaken the immune system
  • is getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Your doctor may decide that the benefits of vaccinating your child outweigh the possible risks.

Caring for Your Child After Rotavirus Immunization

Check with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain or fever, and to find out the right dose.

If your child has vomiting or diarrhea, give small amounts of fluid often and watch for signs of dehydration, such as less urine (pee) than usual.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call the doctor if:

  • You aren't sure if the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
  • Your child has problems after the immunization.

Rarely, some kids will develop intussusception within a week of getting the first or second dose of the vaccine. So watch your child for symptoms such as:

  • intense belly pain with uncontrollable crying
  • vomiting
  • blood or mucus in the poop
  • weakness, drowsiness, or fussiness

Call your doctor right away if your child has any signs of intussusception.

Back To Top

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2024 KidsHealth ® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and