News / Health

Rotavirus Immunization Protects People Who Don't Get Vaccine

Vaccination leaves fewer people to pass around the infection

Protection of the rotavirus vaccine seems to extend beyond the children who receive it.
Protection of the rotavirus vaccine seems to extend beyond the children who receive it.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

Rotavirus causes severe diarrhea that kills more than a half-million people each year, mostly very young children. A recently-introduced vaccine has proved to be very effective and has shown some unexpected benefits, extending protection beyond the children who received the vaccinations.

Rotavirus fatalities are rare in the United States, but the disease does send tens of thousands of children to the hospital each year.

Nationwide vaccinations began in the U.S. in 2006, and now researchers are evaluating the results.

They already know that the vaccine is effective, with diarrhea-related hospitalizations down 50 percent just two years after the immunization program started. But researcher Ben A. Lopman, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the protection went far beyond the children who actually got vaccinated.

"The vaccine program also was providing indirect protection against hospitalizations in older children, and adults and in the elderly. [There] were fewer hospitalizations in 2008 - over 10,000 fewer hospitalizations in these older age groups - than in previous years."

This indirect protection - sometimes called herd immunity - occurs when there are fewer people to pass around an infection, as Lopman explains.

"The idea here is that by vaccinating young children, you stop them from transmitting infection to their older siblings, their parents, their grandparents, etc., because those children themselves are not becoming infected because they've been vaccinated."

There's another surprise here - that older children and adults were getting rotavirus infections in significant numbers. While the vaccine is only recommended for young children, Lopman says his study suggests that doctors should be aware that patients with rotavirus symptoms may be infected, regardless of age.    

Although this study was done in the United States, rotavirus is a much more serious problem in low- and middle-income countries, and the vaccine hasn’t been as effective in those areas. So Lopman says he can't say if his findings would apply there.

"The kinetics of rotavirus transmission are very different in low-income settings, where there seems to be just much more rotavirus around. So it's not clear at this stage whether these indirect benefits would be afforded in low-income settings or not."

In a commentary published with the research paper, a senior official of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Roger I. Glass, director of the NIH Fogarty International Center, says more research is needed to measure the effectiveness of a rotavirus vaccination program conducted where the disease is a much more serious threat. But the official writes that Lopman's study suggests the indirect protection benefit should be considered in assessing the value of a vaccination program.

The research study by Ben A. Lopman and colleagues is published online by the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid