Expert Articles

Rotavirus (oral) vaccine

Author: Lam Wai Man
Registered nurse at Tsung Tsing Mission of Hong Kong Joyful Place

Rotavirus is a common gastrointestinal virus that causes diarrhea in young children. It is highly contagious and can lead to fever, abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, and vomiting. In severe cases, dehydration may occur. The virus spreads primarily through the fecal-oral route, so as long as the mouth comes into contact with contaminated food or environments, there is a possibility of infection. Therefore, group infections are more likely to occur in public places or childcare centers. To prevent rotavirus infection in young children, oral rotavirus vaccines have become an effective means of prevention.

However, these vaccines are not included in the government’s routine childhood immunization program. If parents want to vaccinate their children, they need to go to a clinic and pay for the vaccination themselves. In the Hong Kong market, there are two types of oral rotavirus vaccines available for parents to choose from: Rotarix and RotaTeq. Here is some information about them:

Vaccine Rotarix RotaTeq
Category Live attenuated
Source of vaccine virus strains Live attenuated human rotavirus human-bovine reassortant rotavirus vaccine
Preventable virus strains G1P8, G2P4, G3P8, G4P8, G9P8, G8P4, G12P6, G9P4, G9P61 G1P8, G2P8, G3P8, G4P8, G9P82
Number of doses 2 doses 3 doses
Age for doses 6-24 months 6-32months
Immunizations 1st dose: 6-20months 2nd dose:should be at least 4 weeks after 1st dose. 1st dose: 6-12months 2nd, 3rd dose: should be administered 4 to 10 weeks after the previous dose.
Protective efficacy: Severe rotavirus gastroenteritis (Hong Kong data) 95.6%3 98-100%4

As seen above, both of these vaccines are actually effective, with efficacy of over 95% in preventing severe rotavirus gastroenteritis, and they cover the prevalent virus strains in Hong Kong, including G3P8, G1P8, and G9P85. However, it’s worth noting that RotaTeq requires more doses compared to Rotarix because the human-bovine reassortant viruses replicate less efficiently in the intestines, necessitating an additional dose to ensure efficacy.

Sometimes you may come across opinions from the general public or “mom groups” that overly praise a particular rotavirus vaccine. However, the data reflects that the effectiveness of the two vaccines is comparable. It is sufficient to choose the appropriate dosage and price that suit your needs. However, if infants have spina bifida or bladder exstrophy, it is recommended to administer RotaTeq. These infants are more likely to have latex allergies, and RotaTeq does not contain latex. On the other hand, Rotarix does contain latex, so it should be avoided. If parents have any questions regarding the administration of oral rotavirus vaccines to their infants, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Finally, I wish all babies a healthy and strong body!


  1. GSK. (2016). Rotarix. GSK. 
  2. Merck. (2022). RotaTeq. Retrieved form
  3. Lau, YL. (2013). Efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of a human rotavirus vaccine (RIX4414) in Hong Kong Children up to three years of age: A randomized, controlled trial. Vaccine. Volume 31, Issue 18. 2253-2259.
  4. 5,6. David Lung. (2022). Should your child receive varicella zoster and rotavirus vaccines?. LKS Faculty of Medicine School of Nursing. 
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Rotavirus (oral) vaccine