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Most children are exposed to rotavirus during their first few years of life.

Rotavirus - What is it?

Rotavirus is a virus that spreads very easily from person to person. It is a common cause of severe diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and young children.

Children can catch rotavirus several times in their lives. The first time usually happens when a child is between 3 to 36 months of age.

Rotavirus - What are the symptoms?

Symptoms such as vomiting can start suddenly 1 to 3 days after infection, followed by diarrhoea. Symptoms can range from mild (e.g. watery diarrhoea) to severe (e.g. watery diarrhoea with vomiting, fever and shock).

Diarrhoea from rotavirus infections is often more severe than diarrhoea from other common causes. It is more likely to lead to dehydration (loss of body water) and hospitalisation of young children. Symptoms generally disappear after 3 to 7 days.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following a rotavirus infection. Please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about rotavirus infections.

Rotavirus - How is it spread?

Rotavirus spreads easily among infants and young children, who can spread the virus both before and after they become sick with diarrhoea. Rotavirus is spread easily by hand-to-mouth contact with faeces from an infected person (which is why washing your hands is very important!). The virus can survive outside the body and can also be spread by touching hands, objects, food or water that a person with rotavirus has touched.

Please speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your baby's risk of catching rotavirus.

Rotavirus - Who is at risk?

Rotavirus is very easy to catch and children under 5 years of age are at most risk of catching it.

Other people may be at risk of rotavirus infection. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.

Rotavirus - Vaccination

Rotavirus vaccination is recommended and provided free for infants as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). It involves 2 or 3 doses (depending on the vaccine used) taken by mouth (the vaccine is a small liquid that is drank/swallowed), with the first dose usually given at 2 months of age.

Once a baby turns a certain age (e.g. 24 weeks of age) rotavirus vaccines cannot be given, so please discuss your baby’s individual circumstances with your doctor.

Although rotavirus vaccination will help protect babies against severe diarrhoea and vomiting caused by rotavirus, it will not prevent diarrhoea and vomiting caused by other things.

It is important to take all the recommended doses (2 or 3 doses, depending on what vaccine) to help protect against rotavirus.

Rotavirus – Treatment

Vomiting and diarrhoea caused by rotavirus can lead to dehydration (loss of body water). Treatment for rotavirus is aimed at avoiding dehydration by drinking of lots of liquids, such as water and electrolyte containing drinks. Mild dehydration can be relieved drinking rehydration drinks that are available from pharmacy. Severe dehydration may require hospitalisation for treatment using intravenous fluids (directly into the vein).

If your baby develops severe diarrhoea and vomiting you should seek medical attention immediately.

For information about rotavirus immunisation in your area, contact your State or Territory Health Department or doctor.


Some side effects may be experienced following vaccination. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with your healthcare professional.




AUS/VAC/0017/15. Date of approval: March 2015.