Background: RotaTeq vaccine was introduced into the Australian National Immunisation Program in 2007. This study identified and characterised rotavirus strains excreted by infants who presented with symptoms of gastroenteritis following recent RotaTeq vaccination.
Methods: Fecal samples (N = 61) from children who developed gastroenteritis following recent RotaTeq vaccination were forwarded to the Australian Rotavirus Surveillance Program (ARSP). RotaTeq-positive samples were genotyped and regions of the VP3, VP4, VP6, and VP7 genes were sequenced. Also, 460 rotavirus-positive ARSP routine surveillance samples were analyzed by dot-blot Northern hybridization to detect RotaTeq vaccine-derived strains circulating in the community.
Results: Thirteen of the 61 samples collected from infants developing gastroenteritis after RotaTeq vaccination contained vaccine-derived (vd) rotavirus strains. Of these, 4 contained a vdG1P strain derived by reassortment between the G1P and G6P parental vaccine strains. Northern hybridization analysis of 460 surveillance samples identified 3 samples that contained RotaTeq vaccine-derived strains, including 2 vdG1P reassortant vaccine strains.
Conclusions: During replication and excretion of RotaTeq vaccine, reassortment of parental strains can occur. Shedding of RotaTeq vaccine strains in 7 of 13 infants was associated with underlying medical conditions that may have altered their immune function. The benefits of vaccination outweigh any small risk of vaccine-associated gastroenteritis.