Introduction: Rotavirus vaccines were introduced into the funded Australian National Immunization Program (NIP) in July 2007. Due to purchasing arrangements, individual states and territories chose either a 2-dose RV1 (Rotarix, GSK) regimen or 3-dose RV5 (Rotateq, Merck/CSL) regimen. This allowed comparison of both vaccines in similar populations with high infant vaccination coverage.
Methods: Admission and rotavirus identification data from the major pediatric hospitals in 3 states (2 using RV5, 1 RV1), together with state-based hospitalization and vaccination data from Queensland (RV5) were analyzed for the years before, and up to 30 months following rotavirus vaccine introduction. Emergency encounters and short-stay unit admissions for gastroenteritis are also described.
Results: Rotavirus vaccine coverage in Australia is high, with 87% of infants receiving at least 1 dose. Hospital admissions for both rotavirus gastroenteritis and nonrotavirus-coded gastroenteritis were reduced following vaccine introduction in all states, not only for the age group eligible for NIP rotavirus vaccination, but also for children born prior. RV5 vaccine efficacy in Queensland has been estimated at 89.3%. Marked reductions in acute gastroenteritis emergency presentations and short-stay unit admissions have also been observed.
Conclusions: Early evidence from the NIP in Australia has demonstrated high rotavirus coverage with both RV1 and RV5. The introduction of both vaccines has been associated with a marked reduction in gastroenteritis admissions, supportive of both direct vaccine protection, as well as with indirect herd protection.