Rotavirus vaccines in Belgium : policy and impact
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
The pediatric infectious disease journal. - Baltimore, Md
, p. S21-S24
University of Antwerp
Background: The current Belgian experience with rotavirus vaccination provides a unique perspective to look at the effect of vaccination. Shortly after introduction, a nation-wide recommendation was issued and despite the fact that both rotavirus vaccines are offered through partial reimbursement, vaccine uptake has already reached a high level (at least 90%). Methods: For the purpose of looking at the effectiveness of the Belgian rotavirus vaccination policy, 3 years after introduction, we retrospectively collated the publicly available data on the number of laboratory-confirmed rotavirus cases reported to a national network of sentinel laboratories during 1999 to 2010 and compared them with the available data on hospitalizations due to rotavirus gastroenteritis. Results: Both data sources (reported laboratory-diagnosed cases to a sentinel network as well as data on hospitalizations due to rotavirus gastroenteritis) show a decrease in the number of rotavirus infections and a 4- to 6-week delay in the onset of disease and the peak of incidence in the postvaccination period. Conclusions: Because this decline coincides with the increased vaccine uptake and is sustained during consecutive rotavirus seasons, the effect is mainly attributed to the rotavirus vaccination. The rapid increase in vaccine coverage, despite the partial reimbursement for the vaccines, is remarkable. Continued postlicensure surveillance is necessary to further investigate the effectiveness of the vaccines and to document the public health impact of the vaccination in reducing disease burden.