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Rotavirus is an infection that causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and young children.

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Rotavirus is an infection that causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and young children. The virus generally occurs in winter and early spring. Most children recover at home within a week, but some children may need to see a doctor. Occasionally in severe cases, symptoms can lead to dehydration (loss of body fluids) requiring hospital treatment.  

Rotavirus vaccine

The rotavirus vaccine is given to help protect your baby against rotavirus infection. 

Almost all children have had rotavirus by the time they are five. The number of reported cases of rotavirus has reduced by over 70% since the vaccine was introduced into the UK childhood programme. 

You can find more information on the vaccine and the disease it protects against at NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site).


Eligibility for the vaccine

The rotavirus vaccine is offered to your baby at eight and 12 weeks of age. 


About the vaccine

The vaccine is given as a liquid straight into the baby's mouth for them to swallow. 

The brand name of the vaccine used in the UK is Rotarix. This vaccine has been used in many countries for more than 10 years. 

Your baby needs two rotavirus vaccinations at least four weeks apart to be fully protected. If they miss the first dose, they can have it up to the age of 15 weeks. If they miss the second dose, they can have it up to the age of 24 weeks. Rotarix should not be used in children over 24 weeks of age.

Side effects of the rotavirus vaccine

Babies who have the vaccine can sometimes become restless and irritable, and some may develop mild diarrhoea. 

Very rarely (between 1 and 6 of every 100,000 babies vaccinated), the rotavirus vaccine can affect a baby’s intestine (bowel), and they may develop a rare gut disorder called intussusception. This causes a blockage in the intestine. 

The symptoms of intussusception are: 

  • tummy ache
  • being sick; and
  • poo that looks like redcurrant jelly in the baby's nappy.

If this happens, contact your doctor immediately. 

Other reactions are rare. For more information on common and rare side effects go to NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site) or Rotarix.

If you are concerned about symptoms call NHS 111 Wales (external site). Calls to NHS 111 Wales are free from landlines and mobile phones.

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online at or by calling the Yellow Card scheme hotline on 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).  

Further information

You can find answers to most frequently asked questions at NHS 111 Wales - Rotavirus vaccine FAQs (external site).


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