NZ introduced oral rotavirus vaccine onto its National Immunisation Schedule in July 2014. Already there has been a dramatic decline in cases of rotavirus and in some areas we have not seen a case for several months. The decline is in all age groups, not just the vaccinated cohort.
and it is not just herd immunity…..
My 9 month son received the vaccine last December. Because it is a live attenuated virus, it is likely, through nappy changing etc that the rest of the family has been exposed to the vaccine virus. There is a good chance that the whole family is now immune to Rotavirus. (7 vaccinations for the price of 1!)
The success story of the vaccine changes the landscape somewhat for laboratory testing for rotavirus. Traditionally rotavirus laboratory testing was very common. On occasion a positive result may have stopped a very sick infant getting further investigation, or be used to cohort patients with rotavirus together. But mostly it was just used to put a name to the illness.
Whilst the number of positive results has dropped dramatically, the test numbers have only decreased slightly.
Positivity rates have gone from approximately 1 in 10 tests to under 1 in 200.
We need to relay this information to the clinicians and ask them to think again about why they are testing for rotavirus. Rotavirus testing is still indicated in certain patient cohorts, but not in the wholesale manner of the past.
For a more detailed article on this topic, click here