Rotavirus causes diarrhea, vomiting and intestinal pain in babies and young children. The disease affects up to 140,000 children a year in the UK and whilst the virus has a mortality rate of up to 50 percent in under-developed countries, fatalities are very rare in the UK. The majority of parents in the UK find that the virus is an inconvenience rather than a hazard and in well-nourished children in warm homes the virus is not considered dangerous by most. Advocates of the vaccine state that it will prevent some 14,000 admissions to hospitals and save 20 million GBP (British Pounds). However, the cost of administering the estimated 840,000 doses a year will be 25 million GBP.
In addition to the two Rotavirus jabs at three and four months, the children receive the minimum of 22 doses of other vaccines. At the age of just two months, children receive a first dose of a five-in-one vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type B and a jab for pneumococcal infection. At the age of three months, they receive the second five-in-one jab, and one for meningitis C. When four months old, the children receive a third five-in-one jab, a second dose for pneumococcal infection and a second dose of the meningitis C vaccine. On or just after a child’s first birthday, they receive MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella triple vaccine), a third dose of vaccine for pneumococcal infection and boosters for haemophilus influenza type B and meningitis C.
A cocktail of vaccines
The Rotarix vaccine is a live vaccine given as orally administered drops. It has had large trials and has been administered in many countries including the U.S. The vaccine is now the number one vaccine against Rotavirus after the Rotashield vaccine was found to have the serious side effect of intussusception, a condition where the bowel folds inside itself. The Rotatrix vaccine is considered safe by the WHO (World Health Organization) and has minor side effects such as vomiting, irritability, cold-like symptoms and loss of appetite.
The concern is not that the Rotarix vaccine is unsafe, but that it is another vaccine in the cocktail of vaccines given to children who are less than a year old. Whilst some advocates of vaccines may argue that this is the ideal time to get children’s defenses ready against infection, many people are concerned that the number of vaccines is putting the children’s immune systems under too much pressure. Many people are also concerned that the additives in the vaccines such as adjuvants, formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, and egg protein may cause adverse effects, especially with such an intense vaccination schedule.
The stamp of approval from the WHO should be taken with a proverbial grain of salt, as should the endorsement from the UK Department of Health. Both organizations are so intertwined within the pharmaceutical industry that their enthusiasm for an expensive program of vaccination against a virus that only causes an inconvenience can only really be seen as a decision based on profit. The WHO has stated that they would like to see the Rotarix vaccine administered en mass in poorer countries, opening up a huge new market for the drug; so large in fact, the pharmaceutical companies are willing to drop their prices for the bulk order.
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