Before the licensing of a vaccine, around 450,000 children died a year due to rotavirus. The virus commonly causes diarrhoea which in many cases leads to hospitalization, and is incredibly infectious. Up until 2006 there was no safe vaccine for Rotavirus. But after the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended a rotovirus vaccine in 2006, morbidity and mortality rates associated with the rotavirus dropped massively.
This is the finding of a paper published recently Paediatrics which quantifies the impact of Rotavirus vaccines between 2007 and 2011. The researchers, led by Dr. Eyal Leshem of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a dramatic decline in hospitalisations since 2006 that does not appear to be slowing down.
Between 2001 and 2006, hospitalization rates for diarrhoea related cases remained steady, whilst after the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine they dropped by 60%.
By 2010 rotavirus had all but disappeared according to the researchers who reported a 94% decrease in hospitalizations compared to 2006. this, they attribute to good vaccine coverage and the high effectiveness of the vaccine.
Vaccination rates however remain lower than those for other recommended vaccines. the problem is that young children only have a short window to get vaccinated. But the good news for those who fail to get vaccinated is that herd immunity was demonstrated to be strong amongst communities where the majority had received the vaccine.
Find the Pediatrics paper here.