Rotavirus vaccine

The rotavirus vaccine is offered to babies for free when they are 6 weeks and 3 months old. Your pēpi (baby) needs 2 doses to be fully protected.

What the rotavirus vaccine protects your pēpi (baby) from

Rotavirus is a viral infection that causes diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. It most often affects babies and young children. Some tamariki get so sick they need to go to hospital.

Immunisation against rotavirus will protect around 8 out of 10 babies from severe rotavirus infection. Almost all children who are not immunised get a rotavirus infection before they are 5 years old.

More about rotavirus – IMAC

When it’s given

The rotavirus vaccine is offered to babies for free when they are 6 weeks and 3 months old. Your pēpi (baby) needs 2 doses to be fully protected.

The first dose must be given before your baby turns 15 weeks old, and the second dose before they’re 25 weeks old.

Booking a vaccination appointment

Which vaccine is used

The vaccine we use in New Zealand is Rotarix.

It’s given as liquid drops into your baby's mouth which they swallow. The vaccine contains a weakened form of rotavirus. It is very effective and has an excellent safety record.

Rotarix information – Medsafe (PDF)

Quick answers to frequent rotavirus vaccine questions – IMAC

Side effects and reactions

Like most medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause reactions. These are usually mild, and not everyone will get them.

Mild reactions are normal and show that your baby’s immune system is responding to the vaccine.

If your pēpi is going to have any reactions, they normally happen in the first few days after getting vaccinated. The vaccine itself is gone from your baby’s body within a few hours or days.

Common reactions

The most common reaction to the rotavirus vaccine is a slight fever.

Other common reactions to the rotavirus vaccine include:

  • not feeding as usual
  • crying, being upset, and hard to settle
  • mild diarrhoea (runny/watery poos – within 7 days)
  • vomiting (being sick – within 7 days)
  • tummy pain.

How to treat common reactions

Serious reactions

An extremely rare side effect of the vaccine is called intussusception. This causes a blockage of the intestine. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately if your baby experiences any of these symptoms after immunisation:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Blood in stools (poos)
  • A swollen belly
  • High fever (39°C and over)

Allergic reactions

Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare. Only about 1 in a million people will experience this.

Your vaccinator is well-trained and knows what to look for and can treat an allergic reaction quickly if it happens.

Serious allergic reactions normally happen within the first few minutes of vaccination. This is why you need to wait for up to 20 minutes after immunisation.

Call 111 if you’re worried your baby is having a serious allergic reaction.

Page last updated: 10 Nov 2023