Rotavirus circulating now; study shows vaccine effective

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KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Flu is far from the only virus going around now. Rotavirus can be especially dangerous for little ones. New research shows that vaccination works.

At six months old, Teagan Sandnes has avoided rotavirus so far. It typically strikes in winter and spring and is notorious for causing severe dehydration and hospital stays in babies and toddlers.

"With it causing diarrhea and vomiting and all that fun stuff that comes with babies," said Stephanie Sandnes, Teagan's mother.

Teagan got a rotavirus vaccine that's given at two and four months. Another brand is given at two, four and six months. Both are drops that are swallowed.

"I think it works perfect. Any vaccine -- I'm a hundred percent for," said Sandnes.

New research in the journal Pediatrics compared rates of rotavirus vaccination. The doctor's office with the lowest rate had a third of its babies and toddlers come down with rotavirus over a two-year period. That compared to just ten percent in the office with the highest vaccination rate.

"You're going to be protected more likely than not protected. Nothing is one hundred percent effective," said Dr. Scott Dattel, a pediatrician at St. Joseph Medical Center.

Dr. Dattel says some babies don't get the vaccine because of a lack of education of parents about benefits and risks. A previous rotavirus vaccine was taken off the market because it caused bowel blockage in rare cases.

"And these vaccines were refined to be better and cause less of a chance of that happening," said Dr. Dattel.

He tells parents that the benefits of vaccination against rotavirus far outweigh risks.

"It can cause death, this disease," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control says good handwashing and cleanliness with diaper changing can help keep rotavirus away, but vaccination is most effective.

Another study found that since 2006, when one of the vaccines was approved, there's been an 80 percent reduction in babies hospitalized with rotavirus.