Background: A widespread G2P rotavirus epidemic in rural and remote Australia provided an opportunity to evaluate the performance of Rotarix and RotaTeq rotavirus vaccines, ten years after their incorporation into Australia’s National Immunisation Program.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective case-control analysis. Vaccine-eligible children with laboratory-confirmed rotavirus infection were identified from jurisdictional notifiable infectious disease databases and individually matched to controls from the national immunisation register, based on date of birth, Aboriginal status and location of residence. Results: 171 cases met the inclusion criteria; most were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (80%) and the median age was 19 months. Of these cases, 65% and 25% were fully or partially vaccinated, compared to 71% and 21% of controls. Evidence that cases were less likely than controls to have received a rotavirus vaccine dose was weak, OR 0.79 (95% CI, 0.46–1.34). On pre-specified subgroup analysis, there was some evidence of protection among children <12 months (OR 0.48 [95% CI, 0.22–1.02]), and among fully vs. partially vaccinated children (OR 0.65 [95% CI, 0.42–1.01]).
Conclusion: Despite the known effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination, a protective effect of either rotavirus vaccine during a G2P outbreak in these settings among predominantly Aboriginal children was weak, highlighting the ongoing need for a more effective rotavirus vaccine and public health strategies to better protect Aboriginal children.