Rotavirus vaccine is now to be administered in all Delhi hospitals and clinics for free

Rotavirus, an infection that mostly affects children under five years of age, was earlier called the "winter vomiting disease". Its symptoms include vomiting, severe diarrhoea, abdominal pain, sunken eyes and high fever.

It is dangerous because it is contagious - hand-to-mouth contact and not properly washing hands after going to the bathroom are considered the main reasons for the spread of the virus. According to estimates by the World Health Organisation in 2013, "about 2,15,000 children aged under five years die each year from vaccine-preventable rotavirus infections."

 Rotavirus vaccine is now to be administered in all Delhi hospitals and clinics for free

Representative image. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro - RC15F1369C70

The rotavirus vaccine is administered orally and is free for all citizens. “We give it with the pentavalent vaccine and it is administered to children at 6, 10 and 14 weeks,” said Dr Avinash Rai, Health Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Government of Delhi NCT. “The rotavirus vaccine prevents severe diarrhoea and malnutrition in children.” The pentavalent vaccine includes vaccines for Haemophilus influenzae and DPT. All mandatory vaccines are provided free of cost in government hospitals whereas “optional” vaccines, such as that for typhoid, have to be paid for.

Usually, the rotavirus vaccine is given in two doses with a gap of one month between each dose. “There are no restrictions on who can get the rotavirus vaccine. Even if the immune system is compromised, the vaccine can be administered, mainly because it is oral. If it was being injected, then it would not be recommended in such cases.” Each dose is of 0.5mL. The vaccine is not administered to adults.

There are numerous programs and workers for immunisation in Delhi that follow the National Immunisation Schedule laid by the Government of India. “In healthcare in India, the Centre works to draw guidelines for the immunisation and monitors them while the State ensures that vaccines are properly administered,” he comments, “The government forms its guidelines in lieu with the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation.”

Till now, no serious side effects have been observed. The most common side effect is fever which is a general side effect and seen in most vaccines. Though the rotavirus vaccine does not have any side effects that are specific to it, an allergic response to the vaccine is possible but has not been documented yet. Doctors must carefully review the health of the child, particularly the immune system, before administering the vaccine. In some extremely rare cases, there can be an intestinal obstruction and slight diarrhoea in children. The rotavirus vaccine is, however, considered very ‘safe’.

A chart and vaccine card is given with the vaccines that keep track of appointments, list possible side-effects of vaccines and mention future appointments. Moreover, a ‘growth chart’ is also given to all children that include the ideal weight and height for a child of a particular age.

The Delhi government will obtain the vaccines from the National Institute of Immunology and Serum Institute of India. It is being supplied to some government hospitals in Delhi already, mainly hospitals that provide tertiary care, namely Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. However, administration in all hospitals and clinics in Delhi will begin from mid-August.

Updated Date: Aug 09, 2019 15:36:41 IST