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Rotavirus vaccine should be given routinely: survey

Introducing the rotavirus vaccine to the childhood vaccination programme would be welcomed by both practice nurses and parents according to a survey of practice nurses.

The data, presented at the Health Protection 2010 conference in Warwick, canvassed the views of 500 practice nurses who routinely administer infant vaccinations. More than half (51%) said they thought introducing the rotavirus vaccine into the national programme would be welcomed by their colleagues, while 78% said they thought parents would welcome it too.

Only 3% of those interviewed thought that the vaccination would not be well received by practice nurses and 1% thought it unlikely that parents would welcome its inclusion in the childhood vaccination programme.

The survey, carried out by ICM Research, was conducted via computer-assisted telephone interviews with practice nurses from across the UK who routinely administer infant vaccinations. To keep the sample balanced, 20% of those interviewed had no experience of administering an oral vaccination.

"Based on this survey, practice nurses would welcome the inclusion of the rotavirus vaccine in the national childhood immunisation programme. Healthcare professionals' attitudes towards vaccination, particularly nurses administering vaccines, together with parental attitudes may impact upon coverage rates.

"These results show no apparent obstacles to achieving similar levels of vaccination coverage to other infant vaccines. As the rotavirus vaccine is oral, its introduction in the current schedule would be simple and straight forward, " says George Kassianos, GP Bracknell and RCGP Immunisation Lead.

The onset of rotavirus gastroenteritis can be rapid and unpredictable and can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting. In the UK, there are between 524,2673 and 627,8244 cases of rotavirus each year with the vast majority in children under five years old. When a child is hospitalised, in 91% of cases in the UK at least one parent or relative has to miss work for an average of four days.

The survey was conducted by independent market research company ICM Research and funded by Sanofi Pasteur MSD manufacturer of the pentavalent oral rotavirus vaccine RotaTeq®.