Rotavirus is the most common cause of fatal and severe childhood diarrhoea worldwide. Two new rotavirus vaccines have shown efficacy against severe rotavirus disease in large clinical trials. Between 2006 and 2010, 27 countries introduced rotavirus vaccination into national immunisation programmes and, subsequently, the burden of severe rotavirus disease in these countries has decreased substantially in both vaccinated and unvaccinated children. Rotavirus vaccination has led to large, sustained declines in childhood deaths from diarrhoea in Brazil and Mexico, which supports estimates that rotavirus was the leading cause of diarrhoeal deaths in these countries. Studies after licensing have provided new insights into these vaccines, such as the duration of protection, relative effectiveness in poor populations, and strain evolution after vaccine introduction. The challenge for policy makers worldwide is to analyse the effect of vaccination in early adopter countries and to assess whether the benefits outweigh the costs and encourage wider dissemination of these vaccines.
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