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Prescribing of rotavirus vaccine for parents to administer – An unsafe practice

April 2, 2013

Alberta Health has learned that some physicians are prescribing rotavirus vaccine to infants during office visits. The problem with this practice is that the rotavirus vaccine is sometimes being administered to infants by their parent or guardian, which can put the infant at risk.

An infant may have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine, such as anaphylaxis, for which the parents may not be prepared. Other non life-threatening reactions may occur and go unreported, affecting surveillance of vaccine safety. Proper cold chain practices may not be observed after the vaccine has been dispensed to the parent, which may directly affect its efficacy or safety.

The product monograph for the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine Rotarix™ (2011) clearly indicates that it should be administered by a health care professional. Guideline 14 in the National Guidelines for Immunization Practices, within the Canadian Immunization Guide, 7th Edition stipulates that all vaccines including rotavirus vaccines must be administered by a professional. Alberta Health supports this recommendation.