This week saw the start of babies being vaccinated against the rotavirus. This vaccination is included in the Dutch National Immunisation Programme as of this year. All parents of babies born on or after 1 January 2024 will receive an invitation for this. The rotavirus can cause severe diarrhoea and dehydration in babies, in some cases requiring them to be hospitalised. The rotavirus vaccine is not administered as an injection, but in the form of droplets that are ingested orally.

The rotavirus causes an inflammation in the gastrointestinal system and is highly contagious. Children get a fever and (severe) diarrhoea, become nauseous and throw up. Rotavirus infections are common among young children. Even so, the rotavirus is not widely known. This is because a laboratory test is necessary to identify an infection, and this is rarely done for children with diarrhoea.


If children become dehydrated from prolonged or severe diarrhoea, they have to be hospitalised. This happens to about 3,500 children annually. On average, five or six children die from a rotavirus infection each year.

Existing vaccine

The vaccine is not new – it has been administered in several countries since 2006. As a result, the number of children hospitalised due to a rotavirus infection has fallen considerably in those countries.
The protection from the vaccine will last at least three years. This means children will be protected during the age at which they are most vulnerable.


The rotavirus vaccine is not administered as an injection, but as a liquid in a small tube. At the Well-Baby Clinic, drops from the tube will be put in the child’s mouth. Children will receive the vaccine around the age of six to nine weeks, and again around the age of three months.

Side effects

As with any other vaccination, vaccination with the rotavirus vaccine may result in side effects. Children may feel a little unwell or have a little bit of diarrhoea. This will be short-lived and less serious than the effects of the rotavirus. In rare cases, there may also be other side effects. These are listed on the website of the National Immunisation Programme.