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In 2014, the Ministry of Health announced free rotavirus immunisation for children at six weeks and a second dose at 10 weeks. Since the vaccine was free, there were concerns that some parents may not take it seriously.
World Health Organisation passed recommendations that rotavirus vaccination be included in all national immunisation programmes to provide protection against a virus that claims more than 600,000 lives of children every year.
Further, data by WHO indicates that more than 85 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries, mainly in Africa.
According to Dr Doris Kinuthia, a paediatrician at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, the rotavirus vaccine has to be given before a child is six months.
This, she says, is around the same time (according to research) they are highly susceptible to getting stomach infections from rotavirus. "Six weeks and 10 weeks are significant timelines because other types of vaccinations to children are administered to children at those stages," she says.
"The vaccine confers immunity against the virus and protects against future infections. Infection by rotavirus can be severe, causing bloody diarrhoea which can easily cause death."
Rotavirus affects the bowels. Prior to the availability of a vaccine, in 2006, nearly all children became infected by their third birthday. The virus affects the alimentary canal and is highly contagious through water, liquids and foods and consumables that can find their way into a baby's mouth.
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The primary mode of transmission of rotavirus, which lives and remains latent in the environment, is the passage of the virus from the stool of one child to the mouth of another.
Touching a surface that has been contaminated with rotavirus and then touching the mouth area can also lead to infection.