The first ever vaccine approved by the UAE Ministry of Health (MOH) against highly contagious rotavirus has been recently awarded with a //prequalification status by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is the first time a vaccine against rotavirus gastroenteritis has received such clearance.
The WHO prequalification endorses the Rotarix quality, safety and efficacy, and its ability to fulfill tender specifications. This allows UN agencies, such as the UNICEF and others to use the vaccine in mass vaccination programs. The vaccine is produced by GSK Biologicals, one of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers, which is located in Rixensart, Belgium.
In the UAE, local doctors here have positively welcomed the decision. “The WHO prequalification is good news for parents and thousands of children. It is especially, significant news for developing countries because with this clearance, mass immunization campaigns may soon be a possibility,” said Dr. Shahzad A. Khan, Specialist Pediatrician at Kids’ First Medical Center and visiting consultant at American Hospital.
Rotavirus is the leading recognized viral cause of diarrhea-related illness among infants and young children, with 95% of children worldwide experiencing an episode by the time they reach 3-5 years of age, irrespective of race or socioeconomic status.
According to a local study1, it is estimated that 25 percent of the rotavirus cases in the UAE are in children under 6 months, 35 percent in ages 7 to 12 months, and 25 percent in children from 13 to 24 months. Of these, the most severe infection occurs from 3 to 24 months.
The high infectivity of rotavirus makes it difficult to control the spread of the disease. Therefore, vaccination was recognized by WHO as the only control measure to have a significant impact on the incidence of severe rotavirus infection and is considered the optimum first line strategy for disease prevention.
The Rotarix vaccine
is a two-dose, oral vaccine that is administered at approximately two and four months of age to offer early protection against rotavirus infection. The vaccine has already been licensed in 90 countries and 11 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed since its first launch in Mexico in 2004.The UAE was one of the first countries to register for this vaccination and is the first country in the Middle East to have this vaccine.
"Rotavirus causes great discomfort for children, with diarrhea and vomiting continuing for several days, which can lead to severe dehydration, and if left untreated, can be fatal. The availability of a safe and effective vaccine, like Rotarix, is a relief for physicians as it will not only prevent these distressing symptoms that many children suffer, but will also help to reduce the burden on healthcare resources needed in treating outbreaks of the disease," commented Dr. KhanA.Shahzad, specialist pediatrician at kids’ first medical center, visiting consultant at American hospital.
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