Background: Rotavirus vaccine was recommended for routine use in US infants in 2006. Before the introduction of vaccine, rotavirus was the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children <5 years of age in the United States.
Methods: We reviewed published data to summarize the US experience during the first 3 years of its rotavirus vaccination program.
Results: Rotavirus seasons have been delayed and diminished in magnitude during the postvaccine era compared with the prevaccine era. Hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and outpatient visits due to gastroenteritis have declined dramatically in children < 5 years of age including in children age-ineligible to have received vaccine, suggesting indirect benefits of vaccination. Rotavirus vaccine has been widely accepted by pediatricians. Vaccine coverage is steadily increasing but remains lower than coverage levels of other routine infant immunizations.
Conclusions: The implementation of routine childhood immunization against rotavirus has rapidly and dramatically reduced the large health burden of rotavirus gastroenteritis in US children. Continued monitoring of rotavirus diarrhea is needed to determine if immunity wanes as vaccinated children get older and to better quantify the indirect benefits of vaccination. Ongoing surveillance will also enable monitoring of the long-term impact of vaccination on rotavirus epidemiology.