Rotavirus infections in children and adults can last approximately three to eight days and symptoms include:

  • severe diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • stomach cramps
  • mild fever

The combination of symptoms can lead to dehydration, requiring admission to hospital, especially in young infants. Before the introduction of a national infant rotavirus vaccination programme in 2013, an estimated 55,000 gastroenteritis cases caused by rotavirus occurred in Scotland each year in children less than five years old. Approximately 1,200 of these children were hospitalised.

For further advice on the transmission and prevention of rotavirus, visit NHS Inform.


Guidance for health professionals can be found below:

Members of the public can find rotavirus vaccine guidance on the NHS Inform website.

For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z ​pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.


View 'Changing molecular epidemiology of rotavirus infection after introduction of monovalent rotavirus vaccination in Scotland' on the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website.

This laboratory-based surveillance study shows significant reduction in reported rotavirus cases and a shift in proportion from G1P[8] to G2P[4] strains after introduction of rotavirus vaccination in Scotland. The data will be used to ascertain cross protection against strains and identify vaccine-induced rotavirus strain shifts in the future.

Data and surveillance


Rotavirus vaccine

Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants in the UK and most children will experience it before the age of five. Unlike in the developing world, rotavirus rarely causes death in the UK, however infection results in a significant number of hospital admissions for severe dehydration particularly in infants, where there's a risk of the infection spreading to other vulnerable patients. Additionally it causes an increased burden in primary care when services may be stretched with other seasonal infections such as influenza.

Rotavirus vaccine programmes have been in place prior to 2013 in a number of countries including:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • USA

The programmes have substantially reduced rotavirus related hospitalisations in young children.

A national rotavirus vaccination programme using the vaccine Rotarix® was introduced into the routine infant vaccination schedule in Scotland in July 2013, with approximately 93% vaccines uptake rate.

The vaccine provides protection against the most common strains of rotavirus, but not other enteric viruses such as norovirus.

Infants are offered two doses of the oral vaccine Rotarix®, which is a weakened form of virus which can't cause disease but which protects against rotavirus at an interval of least four weeks between doses: at eight weeks and again at 12 weeks.

Vaccine uptake