Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Rotavirus Disease and Vaccine

Hello there! I am back again with another installment of "Things I Have Learned While Reading The Vaccine Book". This week we will be learning about the rotavirus disease and vaccine. Hold onto your hats, because this week there are some very weird/controversial ingredients involved in the making of this vaccine!

***Disclaimer: The information about vaccines in this post came from
The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears. I am in the process of reading the book and I am simply sharing as I learn. I strongly recommend doing your own research before deciding if vaccines are right for your child.***

Rotavirus is an intestinal virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. An infant typically stays contagious for two to three weeks after symptoms begin.

- is transmitted by contact with the stools or saliva of an infected person. (Um… gross.)
- is resistant to common disinfectants and antibacterial hand soaps. It takes a strong antiseptic or alcohol solution to kill the germ.
- is indistinguishable from the common stomach flu in the initial stages of the illness (fever, vomiting, diarrhea).
- can be caught more than once, but infections are usually milder the second (or third) time around.
- is very common. About 2 million people (mostly infants and children) are hospitalized each year worldwide for this disease. It peaks in the US during the late fall and winter.
- is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in kids under the age of two. By the age three, most kids will have caught rotavirus at least once.
- may cause severe dehydration due to the persistent diarrhea and vomiting.
- is most severe in the first year of life.
- is not treatable. There is no medication to combat rotavirus. Infants who are not significantly dehydrated usually do fine at home with the proper hydration measures.

The vaccine…
- is given at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months.
- is given as a liquid by mouth. It is currently the only oral vaccine in the vaccine schedule.

RotaTeq (Merk) uses the following method to make the vaccine: Five different strands of rotavirus that were originally taken from infected humans and infected cows are used. The viruses are “cross-bred” genetically to increase their effectiveness for the vaccine. The viruses are then grown in a mix of monkey kidney cells nourished by fetal cow serum (blood from a cow fetus). Batches of the virus are filtered out from these cells and placed in a liquid solution. Then your kid drinks it.

Excuse me. Am I the only one appalled that is ok to use freaking MONKEY KIDNEY CELLS and BLOOD FROM A COW FETUS in our child’s ORAL vaccine? Excuse me while I go vomit.

*deep breath* Moving on...

The viruses are whole and live when administered to patience. They are intended to multiply in the intestines of infants in order to create a mild infection that the body’s immune system responds to so it can fight off the real infection if it ever hits.

Controversial ingredients include: monkey kidney cells, fetal cow blood, polysorbate and the use of live, genetically altered organisms.

Reasons to get this vaccine:
(in exact words of Doctor Sears)
Besides the flu, this is the most common of all the vaccine preventable diseases right now. Since most children catch this illness during their first few years of life, its not a question of if your child will catch it, it’s a matter of when will he catch it and how severe will it be. Getting this vaccine will decrease your child’s chance of catching the disease. This can be a very serious disease for infants during the first year of life. The vaccine decreases the severity of the illness when it does strike.

Infants in day care are at high risk of catching this illness. Formula fed infants are likely to suffer a more severe case.

Reasons why some people choose not to get this vaccine:
The animal products in this vaccine may worry some parents. (Ya think?) Also, a new brand of the vaccine has come out a couple years ago and some parents may want to wait until all of the side effects are known. Infants who are breastfed and not in daycare have a fairly low risk of catching this disease during the first year of life, so some parents may choose to skip this vaccine.

Closing paragraph from Doctor Sears:
This infection can be a real pain in the… diaper area. It is extremely common. During my training years, I remember the hospital hallways would be overflowing with dehydrated babies and worried parents because of this bug. Fortunately the actual number of fatalities is low in the United States. Perhaps twenty years from now we’ll look back and say, “Remember the old days, when rotavirus was around?” Sure, the vaccine is new and the ingredients are a little odd, and this might give some parents pause. But this vaccine should help us get rid of rotavirus. I consider this a fairly important vaccine.

My opinion:
I think the ingredients are horrific. But I would be a complete paranoid mess if Zachariah were to get severely dehydrated. Since the rotavirus can cause severe dehydration, I do think that I am ok with this vaccine. I don't think this is a must have vaccine, but if I can get past the animal parts I think I will be ok with it.

Though, I am now wondering if Zachariah ever received it. I know he NEVER received any oral meds in the doctors office. Does anyone know if there is a new vaccine that is not given orally? I am very curious.

Stay tuned next week for a post on Polio disease and vaccine!

Oh, and if you have missed any of the previous posts...
Hep B

1 comment:

tammi said...

That made my stomach churn.