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  • Why a Child Needs to Receive the Rotavirus Vaccine Before He Turns One Year Old

    Rotavirus vaccine is crucial for infants who are most vulnerable to this virus.
    by Kate Borbon .
Why a Child Needs to Receive the Rotavirus Vaccine Before He Turns One Year Old
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  • Kung gusto mong basahin ang nakasulat dito sa Tagalog, mag-click lamang dito.

    In 2012, the Philippines became the first Southeast Asian country to introduce the rotavirus vaccine upon the recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the childhood immunization schedule prepared by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) together with the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV), parents are advised to have their children receive the rotavirus vaccine within their first year of life.

    Read below to learn more about the rotavirus disease and the rotavirus vaccine.

    What is rotavirus?

    Rotavirus is a highly contagious infection that can be extremely dangerous for infants and young children. According to the Mayo Clinic, rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea among children and even childhood deaths worldwide. Though young children are most vulnerable to this disease, it can happen to adults as well.

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    Hand-to-mouth contact is a way rotavirus can be spread easily. For instance, if your child has rotavirus and you don’t wash your hands after changing your child’s diaper or helping her use the toilet, the virus can be transmitted onto the things you touch. Infection can also take place if you touch someone else’s unwashed hands or a contaminated item then touch your mouth or if you end up eating contaminated food.

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    Rotavirus symptoms and possible complications

    The symptoms of rotavirus usually begin to manifest within two days of exposure. Initial symptoms of rotavirus infection include fever, vomiting, severe watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain. An infected child might also exhibit symptoms like black stool or stool containing blood or pus, lethargy, irritability, and pain. These symptoms can last up to eight days.

    Dehydration is considered the most severe complication of rotavirus and can cause death in children. If you find that your child is showing signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, little to no urination, and unresponsiveness, call your child’s doctor immediately.

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    Rotavirus treatment and prevention

    According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no specific treatment for rotavirus. Antibiotics are not recommended for the use of infected patients since these are aimed towards fighting bacteria and not viruses. Anti-diarrhea medicine is also not recommended for use.

    For children who experience severe dehydration as a result of rotavirus infection, treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids may be required. Meanwhile, those who go through severe diarrhea may be recommended to use oral rehydration fluids, which can replace lost minerals better than water or other types of liquids.

    One way to prevent the spread of rotavirus is by practicing good hygiene. Just washing your hands after using the toilet and after changing your child’s diaper can be helpful. But good hygiene alone cannot guarantee that your child will not be infected with rotavirus. Receiving the rotavirus vaccine is still the best way to protect her from the contagious disease.

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    Rotavirus vaccine is your child's best protection

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes there are two types of rotavirus vaccines that can be used on infants. First is RotaTeq (RV5), which is given in three doses at the ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. The second type is Rotarix (RV1), which is given in two doses at ages 2 months and 4 months. Both vaccines are provided orally (through drops put in the child’s mouth) instead of as shots.

    The rotavirus vaccine is most effective when the first dose is administered before a child reaches the 15-week-old mark, says the CDC. More specifically, parents are recommended to have their children receive all doses of the rotavirus vaccine before they turn 8 months old. The number of doses a child needs will depend on the type of rotavirus vaccine used by her doctor. The rotavirus vaccine may also be given along with other vaccines.

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    No vaccine is 100% effective, but the benefits make it paramount for every child to receive it. For example, according to Healthy Children, before the rotavirus vaccine was introduced in the United States in 2006, rotavirus was a serious health threat among children across the country. Every year, over 200,000 children were admitted in the emergency room, and around 70,000 had to be hospitalized.

    Now that the rotavirus vaccine is available, the number of infected patients in the U.S. who need to be taken to the emergency room or to be hospitalized has dropped significantly. The CDC notes that about nine out of 10 people who receive the rotavirus vaccine will be at less risk of developing severe rotavirus disease and that about seven out of 10 will be protected from rotavirus disease of any severity.

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