Kenya experts concerned over child diarrhea vaccine

Four years after introduction of rotavirus vaccine, a study at Kenyatta National Hospital indicates it may not be very effective.

The study shows significant rates of rotavirus diarrhea in children attending Kenya’s top public hospital despite having been vaccinated.

“There is still burden of rotavirus diarrhea even after introduction of rotavirus vaccine,” says the study published on Thursday (11th October 2018) in the journal BMC Pediatrics.

These doubts are raised three months after another study at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi claimed the pneumonia vaccine is also not effective.

The researchers had concluded that the vaccine PCV 10 did not protect children against local strains of pneumonia, which has remained the top killer disease in the country.

The current rotavirus study, led by the University of Nairobi had involved 353 children aged 3–24 months presenting with acute diarrhea at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Ninety seven per cent of the children the report says had been fully vaccinated against rotavirus, however in general 14.5 per cent had the virus and up to 20 per cent of the older children. The study also involved the Nairobi based Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

The reports come at a time Kenya government is under intense pressure to start budgeting for the two vaccines after sponsorship from GAVI Alliance ends in 2022.

The rotavirus vaccine was introduced into the Kenya childhood immunization programme at no cost in 2014. However in private hospitals it costs about Sh2, 800.

Several rotavirus vaccine evaluation studies involving GAVI, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust and some US agencies are nearing completion. These are largely expected to give the vaccine high grades and recommend its continuation.

Full report is available here: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-018-1291-8

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