Alberta to consider funding rotavirus vaccine for children

EDMONTON – Alberta parents should know in the next month or two whether the provincial government plans to add the rotavirus vaccine to its list of funded childhood immunizations.

The government is awaiting the results of a review by the National Committee on Immunization, which is expected to provide updated information on rotavirus vaccines in February.

“Alberta Health will use these recommendations to determine if our immunization program should be updated,� Dr. James Talbot, chief medical officer of health for Alberta, said Monday in a written statement. “A potential date for inclusion of the rotavirus vaccine will be finalized once all available research and evidence has been reviewed.�

Rotavirus is common and highly contagious infection that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, also known as gastroenteritis, among children. Most children are affected at least once by the time they are five years old.

Deaths are rare, but serious cases can cause dehydration requiring children to be hospitalized. Symptoms can last three to eight days.

At least four other provinces already provide free rotavirus immunizations. Among them, British Columbia and Ontario each offer a two-dose vaccine that is given to infants at the ages of two and four months.

It is not clear how much a similar immunization program in Alberta would cost.

The Canadian Pediatric Society has recommended the rotavirus immunization be added to the list of routine vaccines across the country.

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