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Rotavirus affects bowels and causes watery diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Many kids have rotavirus infection by the time they are 5 years.
It is a leading cause of fatal infant diarrhea in India, which accounts for 23 percent of rotavirus deaths worldwide. In India, one out of 200 children under the age of 5 dies of rotavirus diarrhea.
Rota Teq, launched by MSD India in Chennai, is India’s first pentavalent vaccine.
Addressing a press conference, K.G. Ananthakrishnan, managing director, MSD in India, said, “India suffers from a high disease burden of rotavirus-associated diarrhea which also leads to high child mortality in the country. MSD, which launched Rota Teq, will pursue efforts to enable high awareness of the disease and its prevention and wide access to the vaccine.”
Pentavalent rotavirus vaccine
The pentavalent vaccine combines five different vaccines in one oral dose or injection. It combines vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza type B (HIB).
Children immunized with the pentavalent vaccine don’t need separate vaccination for each disease.
The pentavalent rotavirus vaccine would help India fight against infection.
With the addition of this pediatric vaccine to the existing adult and adolescent vaccines against rotavirus, the country hopes to protect people of all ages from the disease.
A vaccine that protects against the disease is the only solution against rotavirus, said, Dr. S. Balasubramanian, senior consultant, Kanchi Kamakoti Child Trust Hospital, Chennai.
He explained that clean water and hygiene only go so far in controlling rotavirus gastroenteritis. The disease is as much threat in the developed countries as it is in the developing countries.
The Indian Academy of Pediatrics too has recommended the inclusion of the rotavirus vaccine in the national universal immunization program in India.
The oral vaccine costs Rs. 900, and has to be administered in three doses. Doctors say the first dose must start when the child is between 6 and 12 weeks of age, and must end before 32 weeks.
"The vaccine can be given along with other vaccines without any side effects," said Dr. Balasubramanian.