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WHO Recommends Rotavirus Vaccine for All Children

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

The World Health Organization is recommending that the oral rotavirus vaccine be included in all national immunization programs. The move could avert half a million deaths and 2 million hospitalizations a year.

Rotavirus is a leading cause of severe gastroenteritis, which includes severe vomiting and diarrhea, in infants and young children. The contagious infection kills an estimated 1,600 children under the age of five every day, mostly in Africa and Asia.

Children in the United States and Europe have had access to the rotavirus vaccine for about three years but it had previously not been tested in and approved for low-income settings where the disease is most lethal.

The Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health estimates that vaccination can prevent 225,000 child deaths in the developing world each year.

Poor countries will be able to apply for funding from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization to help them buy the vaccine, said spokeswoman Ariane Leroy.

The group, which includes governments and private entities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has already pledged to make $4 billion available to developing countries until the end of 2015 – most of it for vaccine programs.

“This WHO recommendation clears the way for vaccines that will protect children in the developing world from one of the most deadly diseases they face,” said Tachi Yamada of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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