Key messages | Rotavirus disease and vaccines
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- Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in children under five years of age worldwide, killing more than 450,000 children each year and hospitalizing millions more.
- While every child is at risk of rotavirus infection, more than 95 percent of rotavirus deaths occur in developing countries, where access to treatment for severe rotavirus-related diarrhea is limited or unavailable.
- Vaccination offers the best hope for preventing severe rotavirus disease and the deadly dehydrating diarrhea that it causes.
- Vaccines against rotavirus are saving lives today in countries where children have access to them.
- Countries that have introduced rotavirus vaccines have experienced significant reductions in severe and fatal diarrhea, underscoring the incredible potential for rotavirus vaccines to improve child health and save lives.
- Rotavirus vaccines are cost-effective and a wise investment. If used in all GAVI-eligible countries, rotavirus vaccines could prevent an estimated 180,000 deaths and avert 6 million clinic and hospital visits each year, thereby saving US$68 million annually in treatment costs.
- Rotavirus vaccines play an essential and lifesaving role in comprehensive diarrhea control strategies. A coordinated approach that combines rotavirus vaccines with other prevention and treatment methods, including oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding, zinc treatment, improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as proper nutrition, will achieve the greatest impact on diarrheal disease morbidity and mortality.
- GAVI is the key to increasing access to rotavirus vaccines and saving children’s lives. GAVI and its partners plan to support the introduction of life-saving rotavirus vaccines in at least 40 of the world’s poorest countries by 2015, immunizing more than 50 million children.
- In GAVI-eligible countries, where 95 percent of deaths due to rotavirus occur, more than 2.4 million child deaths can be prevented by year 2030 by accelerating access to lifesaving rotavirus vaccines.
- The power of rotavirus vaccines to prevent childhood deaths and hospitalizations highlights the importance of providing accelerated access to these vaccines to children around the world. Policymakers, donors, and the global health community must work together to help overcome the challenges to getting rotavirus vaccines and other diarrheal disease interventions to all children worldwide.