Rotavirus vaccine benefits outweigh the risk

PARENTS can be reassured rotavirus vaccination is associated with only a small increase in cases of intussusception (IS) annually in Australia, infectious diseases experts say.

Dr Jim Buttery, director of SAEFVIC vaccination adverse event surveillance, said about 200 idiopathic cases of IS occurred annually in Australian children, with a handful linked to vaccination.

“GPs should inform parents the benefits of the vaccine are that it prevents 7000 hospital admissions a year in Australia due to acute gastroenteritis but it causes six cases of intussusception,” he said.

Dr Buttery said children who previously had IS should not be vaccinated, and he suggested specialist referral if a sibling had been affected.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, wrote to GPs in February saying rotavirus vaccination should continue despite the increased risk quantified in a TGA investigation.