New childhood rotavirus vaccine pulled
July 15, 1999
Web posted at: 4:53 p.m. EDT (2053 GMT)
From staff reports
ATLANTA (CNN) - Doctors are being urged to stop using a new vaccine designed to help protect children from diarrhea because some infants have developed a type of bowel obstruction after being vaccinated, federal officials said Thursday.
The vaccine is for rotavirus, the most common cause of diarrhea, which often is severe and life threatening in infants and children.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics are recommending the postponement and suspension of vaccinations for rotavirus until November 1999 because at least 23 vaccinated children have developed a condition called intussusception.
Intussusception is a type of bowel obstruction in which one part of the bowel folds in on itself. If not detected early, surgery may be required to correct the blockage.
"We're recommending that vaccination of children who were scheduled to receive the vaccine before November 1999 be
postponed," said Dr. Melinda Wharton, chief of the Child
Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch of the CDC's National
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in response to the CDC report, issued a statement calling for a temporary suspension on the use of the rotavirus vaccine.
Parents of recently vaccinated children should watch for symptoms of intussusception, including persistent vomiting and abdominal pain. Symptoms may develop within one to three weeks after vaccination.
Partially vaccinated children should not complete the previously recommend regimen of three doses.
Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics hope to resume vaccinations in November, the start of the peak rotavirus season, if no further association is found.
"Rotavirus is a serious disease and the vaccine has been demonstrated to be very effective," Wharton said. "It's really important to collect more information so that we better understand this problem and its magnitude.
According to Dr. Larry Pickering, a consultant to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, it is possible the natural rotavirus may be causing the bowel obstruction and not the vaccine.
Rotavirus is a common infection among children. Without the vaccine, virtually all children will get the infection before entering school. The illness strikes most often in child care centers and preschools. Cases peak in the fall and winter.
In the United States, rotavirus is blamed for about 500,000 physician visits each year. Some 50,000 children are hospitalized because of the virus and 20 children die.
Globally, the virus is one of the leading causes of childhood deaths.
The rotavirus vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August 1998. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended routine use of the vaccine in November 1998 and the CDC included it in the schedule of routine of vaccinations for children in January 1999.
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