Gastroenteritis: two vaccines recommended and reimbursed for babies

Parents of newborns are invited to vaccinate them against this infection, which is not necessarily benign in toddlers.

An essential disease of childhood, gastroenteritis is not always harmless. Rotavirus infections, the main cause of this disease in children, thus cause some 28,000 emergency room consultations and 20,000 hospitalizations of children under 3 years old each year. Mainly in question: dehydration induced by repeated vomiting and diarrhea, very dangerous in infants.

As of this Saturday, the two existing vaccines against these viruses (Rotarix, which only targets one strain of rotavirus, and RotaTeq which contains five) are recommended and reimbursed at 65% by Medicare. They are about 80% effective against infections and hospitalizations if given from the age of 2 months, says the Ministry of Health. All doses must have been given before 6 months for Rotarix, and 8 months for RotaTeq. This vaccination is not compulsory for the moment.

Reassuring new data

These are not new treatments coming onto the market. France had suspended their inclusion in the vaccination schedule in 2015, after two years of use, due to uncertainty about the benefit-risk balance: acute intussusception (the baby’s intestine turns in on itself with risk necrosis) appeared to have increased in some large-scale vaccinating countries.

New results this summer led the High Authority for Health to rule again in favor of vaccination. Experts now estimate the maximum increased risk at 6 cases per 100,000 children in the week following ingestion of these oral vaccines and advise informing parents about the warning signs, because acute intussusception (IIA) is treatable well. if it is treated in time. Symptoms to look out for within 7 days after the baby receives the dose are unusual crying, refusal to feed or drink, vomiting, paleness, a “floppy” baby (hypotonia), and the presence of blood in stool.

Paradoxically, vaccination could also help prevent cases of IIA, experts note. Indeed, acute intussusception can also be caused by various viral infections, including rotavirus infections. Thus, by preventing many children from contracting the virus, we would reduce this associated risk for them.


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