Vaccination offers 98 percent protection against rotavirus

During a press conference underscoring the important of vaccinations against rotavirus, the most common and lethal diarrheal disease, experts confirmed that vaccination can offer up to 98 percent protection against the disease.

The conference was held by Vascera, the Arabian International Society of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, and the Egyptian Society for Neonatal and Preterm Care. Rotavirus is one of the most deadly diseases in the developing world for children.

"Vaccination remains the best prevention and control measure, preventing almost all (85 percent - 98 percent) severe illness episodes," Moustafa Mohammady, the vaccination center manager at Vacsera, said. "Vacsera exerts great efforts to provide rotavirus vaccination including pentavalent vaccination, the only vaccine that protects against the five most common strains of the virus. A three dose oral vaccine, pentavalent vaccination is administered to infants six weeks through 32 weeks of age and has an established safety profile. Another monovalent vaccination option is administered twice during the same age range."

The World Health Organizations Strategic Group of Experts on Immunization said in 2009 that vaccination against rotavirus should be included with each country's immunization program.

"Each year rotavirus kills more than 500,000 children and hospitalizes millions around the world," Gamal Samy, a professor of pediatrics at Ain Shams University and the head of ESCNP, said. "In Egypt, severe diarrhea is a leading cause of death among children under three years. Known as the 'democratic virus'; nearly every child in the world will suffer at least one rotavirus infection before the age of three. Yet, rotavirus is one of the most preventable diseases."

According to Hamed-El Khayat, a professor of pediatrics at Ain Shams University and the honorary president of ARISGN, rotavirus is extremely contagious and is transmitted by the fecal-oral route. The disease can spread through contact with contaminated food, objects or water. The symptoms of the disease include fever, vomiting and profuse diarrhea that can lead to severe dehydration. The rotavirus vaccine is not included in Egypt's vaccination program.

"We are in dire need of civil society efforts to bring an end to preventable deaths caused by rotavirus," El Khayat said. "Providing vaccination in underprivileged areas and expanding efforts to include vaccination in Egypt's immunization program are essential measures."