Protecting children from the most common cause of serious diarrhea, the rotavirus could reduce the need for many hospitalizations for children under the age of two.
"At present, more than 500 to 600 children need to be hospitalized annually," said Dr. Robert Bortolussi, chair of the CPS Infectious Disease and Immunization Committee. "Worldwide, rotavirus is thought to cause up to a million deaths in infants annually, almost all in the developing countries."
The virus generally lasts three to eight days when a child is infected and can't be treated with antibiotics. In Canada the virus has outbreaks generally between February and May.
In the case of serious illness children can become dehydrated. There are two vaccines used in Canada that are given orally starting at 6 weeks and given before a child turns eight months old.
"Almost every child will develop diarrhea caused by rotavirus at some time in their life, with symptoms of fever, vomiting and diarrhea," said Dr. Bortolussi. "The highest risk for severe illness occurs in the first two years of life.
Both vaccine preparations are about 98 per cent effective in preventing severe illness that might otherwise lead to hospitalization," said Dr. Bortolussi. "The vaccine is very safe."