Karnataka to introduce Rotavirus vaccine in Universal Immunisation Programme

Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea and death among children under the age of five.   | Photo Credit: H.S.MANJUNATH

Targeting universal immunisation, the Health Department is all set to introduce Rotavirus vaccine (RVV) as part of the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) from the third week of August.

With this, the vaccine that costs around ₹600 a dose in private healthcare facilities will be given free of cost to all infants at the age of six, 10 and 14 weeks, along with other vaccines under the UIP. It will be provided at all government hospitals, medical colleges, urban dispensaries, primary health centres, community health centres, sub-centres and outreach session sites.

Rotavirus, a highly contagious virus, is the most common organism that causes severe diarrhoea and death among children under the age of five. As per a 2013 position paper of the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Rotavirus transmission occurs primarily by the faecal-oral route, directly from person to person, or indirectly via contaminated fomites, and the virus can live for hours on hand and even longer on hard surfaces”.

In India, around 78,000 children die from Rotavirus diarrhoea annually, while nearly 9 lakh are admitted to hospitals with severe diarrhoea. Another 32.7 lakh children visit hospitals as outpatients when afflicted.

Karnataka to introduce Rotavirus vaccine in Universal Immunisation Programme

It is estimated that Rotavirus accounts for 40% of the hospitalisation among children in India. Diarrhoea causes 9.2% of the total deaths among children under five years, according to child mortality estimates, UNICEF Global Database 2018. As of now, there is no Rotavirus infection data collated in Karnataka.

Rajani B.N., State Deputy Director (Immunisation), told The Hindu that the vaccine is given orally (2.5 ml dose) and infants who have missed it at 6, 10, and 14 weeks can take it before their first birthday. “We are planning to introduce it by the third week of August as administering the vaccine requires training of our healthcare workers as the vaccine comes in powder and diluent form.

The powder needs to be reconstituted using an adapter and then be put into syringes, and healthcare workers need to be trained in following this procedure properly,” she said.

All medical officers, junior health assistants, supervisory staff, and cold chain handlers at the district level across the State are being trained. District-wise task forces, headed by Deputy Commissioners, will be set up to facilitate the rollout. Officials from Integrated Child Development Services, education and other key departments, along with Indian Academy of Paediatrics, Indian Medical Association, and NGOs will be involved in the launch, Dr. Rajani said.


Rotavirus diarrhoea has an incubation period of one to three days. The symptoms are sudden onset of watery stools, often accompanied by fever and vomiting. Sometimes, there may be abdominal pain. The diarrhoea and associated symptoms may last three to seven days. If not treated adequately, it may result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, shock and death, Dr. Rajani said

A top official in the Health Ministry’s Immunisation Division said that introduction of the vaccine, which is being done in phases across the country, has resulted in an estimated 74% reduction in severe Rotavirus infections in 11 States where it is currently being given to infants.

“Adding this life-saving vaccine to our immunisation programme will not only improve the health of our children, but will also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea due to Rotavirus, such as malnutrition and delayed physical and mental development in children,” the official said.

This vaccine is in addition to three vaccines that have been introduced in India’s UIP, including Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Measles, Rubella (MR) vaccine, and Adult Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 10:25:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-to-introduce-rotavirus-vaccine-in-uip/article28526357.ece

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