Can the Rotavirus vaccine cause Intussusception?

And how to treat intussusception.

Intussusception from the Rotavirus vaccine can happen to infants. Symptoms often include vomiting, abdomen pain, diarrhea, weakness or jelly stool.

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What is intussusception?

If your child received the rotavirus vaccine and developed Intussusception or Intussusception-like symptoms, your child may be entitled to compensation. Still not sure what Intussusception is or how to spot its symptoms? We’ve added some information below to help identify a intussusception case. Intussusception is a serious condition where a portion of the intestines slides into a neighboring portion of the intestines, creating a “telescoping” side effect. As a result, food and/or fluids, including blood supply, are blocked from passing through the intestines. This can lead to tears or perforations in the bowel, infection, and even death of bowel tissue. Intussusception is most often found in children younger than three (3) years old, and is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in that population. In rare cases Intussusception can occur in adults, but is often the result of an underlying medical condition such as a tumor.

Increased risk factors for intussusception include: (1) age, (2) sex; (3) abnormal intestinal formation at birth; and (4) underlying conditions. Children between the ages of six (6) months and three (3) years are the most common age group affected by intussusception. Intussusception more often affects males. Other factors such as Abnormal Intestinal Formation at birth, an intestinal malrotation, specifically, increases the risk of intussusception as the intestine is not fully developed and does not rotate correctly in a young child. Other underlying conditions such as immune system deficiencies, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis and IgA vasculitis can all increase the risk of intussusception. The Centers for Disease Control currently note two licensed Rotavirus vaccines: RotaTeq (3 doses) and Rotarix (2 doses). Check with a healthcare professional about your child's Rotavirus vaccination status and if they have a predisposed intussusception risk.

 

Rotavirus vaccine causing intussusception

The most common vaccine that can trigger Intussusception is the Rotavirus vaccine. An oral vaccine, administered similarly to that of the oral polio vaccine, most recipients experience no vaccine side effects, but there is a small risk (approximately 2 in 100,000) of intussusception occurring within a week after the first dose or second dose. Studies suggest a causal relationship between the two, pointing at increased gut motility as a result of a mimicked viral infection in many cases of intussusception. Rotavirus disease is common in infants across the world, with nearly every child in the world being infected with a natural rotavirus infection at least once by the age of five, and in some cases, even older children.

The NVICP is paired with the Vaccine Injury Table, which lists vaccines covered by the program and each severe illness associated with every vaccine. The table specifically lists intussusception in the context of the rotavirus vaccine as of October 22, 1998. This table functions in three ways: (1) To specify vaccines covered by the NVICP, (2) to specify injuries eligible for compensation associated with specific vaccines, (3) to establish an expected time frame for the onset of symptoms of the specific injury. According to the Table, the appropriate time frame for the first intussusception symptoms or onset manifestation is between one (1) and twenty-one (21) days following the first or second (but not third) dose of the vaccine.

The benefits of rotavirus vaccination greatly outweigh the risks of not receiving it and contracting the rotavirus infection itself, but infants should not receive the rotavirus vaccine if they have had previous episodes of intussusception, bowel obstruction or have moderate to severe diarrhea or vomiting.

 

What are the symptoms of intussusception in children?

It is important to note that not all children experience the same symptoms or serious side effects. The first sign of intussusception in an otherwise healthy child is normally sudden, loud crying caused by abdominal pain. Young children will often pull their knees to their chest when experiencing this intense abdominal pain. The pain is episodic in nature, and usually occurs every fifteen (15) to twenty (20) minutes at first. The episodes last longer and occur more frequently as time passes. If you are suffering from any of the following symptoms, seek medical advice immediately:

  • Stool containing blood or mucus
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • A lump in the abdomen
  • Weakness and/or lethargy
  • Temporary diarrhea

Recently, My Vaccine Lawyer's founding partner Paul Brazil was interviewed by Jodie Fleischer of NBC4 Washington about vaccine injuries such as Intussusception, along with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which is a federal compensation program for serious adverse events following a vaccine in the United States. Paul and Jodie also discuss the relative risk of these injuries and the lack of public knowledge about the VICP.

NBC4 Washington - Paul Brazil of My Vaccine Lawyer on Federal Vaccine Program

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Intussusception diagnosis

Physicians will begin by reviewing the history of the patient’s symptoms, and can often even feel a sausage-shaped lump in the abdomen. A diagnosis of intussusception is normally confirmed by abdominal imaging, including either an ultrasound. X-ray or computerized tomography (CT). Intussusception reveals itself in the form of a “bulls eye,” representing the intestine coiled within itself. Tears or perforations are also visible with imaging.

 

Intussusception treatment

Intussusception requires emergency medical care in order to avoid severe dehydration, infection and shock. Depending upon the severity of the intussusception, one (1) of two (2) standard treatment options will be utilized. The first is a water soluble contrast or air enema. This procedure begins with a small, soft tube being inserted into the rectum. A radiologist will then pump air or a water soluble contrast agent to push the bowel back to its normal length. Normally, this procedure is enough to fix the intussusception and no further treatment is necessary. Of note, there is a small risk of tear or rupture of the bowel associated with this technique.

In more severe cases, however, where the intestines are torn or perforated, surgery is warranted. Surgical intervention to repair an intussuscepted bowel involves freeing the portion of the intestine that is trapped, clearing the obstruction, and, if necessary, removing any of the intestinal tissue that is no longer viable.

Intussusception recurs in up to twenty (20) percent of all cases, prompting repeat treatment.

 

How to report a vaccine injury

In the wake of a rotavirus vaccination injury, you should immediately notify your doctor's office. Be sure to provide the date of vaccination, the vaccine administrator’s information and the site of injection (i.e., left or right arm.) Your medical provider will ensure that you begin a course of treatment to best address your symptoms. Additionally, you should:

  • Call your doctor as some vaccine injuries can be life-threatening if left untreated;
  • Tell your doctor exactly what happened, the date and time of your vaccine, and shoulder it was given;
  • Ask your doctor to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System ("VAERS") form.
  • Hire a vaccine injury attorney to protect your rights and ensure potential financial compensation.

VAERS stands for the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which is a program managed by the CDC. The program processes submitted reports of vaccine injuries and adverse events from those who have been injured. It is not to bring a traditional civil lawsuit against any vaccine manufacturers. It is important to note that VAERS does not diagnose those who have been injured with a vaccine injury, but rather compile data about reported adverse reactions for the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration in hopes of improving vaccine safety measures for immunization practices in the future. There are no restrictions to who can file a VAERS report and it is often used as supplemental evidence in vaccine cases when determining the onset of an injury or symptoms.

 

Compensation for intussusception from rotavirus vaccine

If you or a loved one suffered an allergic reaction, illness, or other adverse effects after receiving a Rotavirus vaccine, you may qualify for compensation from a government program called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. Contact My Vaccine Lawyer for a free case evaluation. Our law firm focuses almost exclusively on vaccine injury claims and has recovered over $40 million for vaccine injury claims since 2019.

 

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Page last reviewed and updated: January 24, 2021

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