Rotavirus Vaccine for Infants Approved in USA
Good news for small children and their parents: RotaTeq, a new vaccine from Merck, has been approved to protect little ones from life-threatening diarrhea and dehydration produced by rotavirus infections.
In the United States, rotavirus sickens about 2.7 million children younger than 5, sends up to 70,000 to the hospital and causes 20 to 70 deaths each year.
A federal advisory committee on immunizations is to decide this month whether to add RotaTeq to the list of recommended pediatric vaccines, Merck said.
RotaTeq is a genetically engineered, three-dose oral vaccine that protects against five common rotavirus strains. The liquid vaccine can be given orally to infants in three doses during regular well-baby visits to the doctor at two, four and six months.
Merck seeks to license the vaccine in more than 50 countries. It also plans trials in Africa and Asia, where the virus is a noted killer. The vaccine requires refrigeration, which could complicate its use in poorer countries.