Most potential side effects of the rotavirus vaccine are mild, but there’s a very small chance of severe complications. For most babies, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

Rotavirus is a highly contagious type of virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. It most often affects babies and small children.

Before the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in 2006, the virus was the leading cause of severe diarrhea among infants and young children in the United States.

Rotavirus is estimated to cause more than 129,000 deaths annually, the majority occurring in countries without access to the vaccine.

Each year, the rotavirus vaccine prevents an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 hospitalizations in the United States. And the rotavirus vaccine is estimated to be more than 90% effective at preventing severe disease in higher income countries.

Babies should receive their first vaccine dose before the age of 15 weeks.

Read on to learn about common and rare side effects of the rotavirus vaccine.

There are two rotavirus vaccines approved for babies in the United States:

  • RotaTeq: administered in three doses, at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months
  • Rotarix: administered in two doses, at 2 months and 4 months

Most babies don’t have any side effects from these vaccines. For those who do, the most common side effects are mild and usually go away on their own.

The most common side effects include:

  • irritability
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Other reported symptoms after rotavirus vaccination include:

All vaccinations come with some risks, but the benefits of preventing severe disease usually outweigh these risks. Serious side effects of the rotavirus vaccine are rare.


There’s a very small risk of developing intussusception, usually a week after receiving the vaccine. The risk ranges from about 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000 U.S. babies. Intussusception is a potentially life threatening type of bowel obstruction where a part of the intestines folds up like a telescope.

Large clinical trials of the RotaTeq and Rotarix vaccines didn’t find an increased risk of intussusception in babies who were vaccinated. However, safety monitoring since the vaccines received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval has identified a slightly increased risk in the 7 days after vaccination.

Children who received an older vaccine called RotaShield, which was removed from the market in 1999, had about a 10 times higher risk of intussusception compared with children who were unvaccinated.

Kawasaki’s disease

In a 2020 study, researchers also suggested a potential association between rotavirus vaccination and Kawasaki’s disease. However, newer research hasn’t found a link.

In a 2022 study, researchers didn’t find an increased risk of Kawasaki’s disease in U.S. children under 2 who received the rotavirus or pneumococcal conjugate vaccines between 2006 and 2017.

Severe allergic reaction

A severe allergic reaction can occur from any vaccine, though it’s very rare. It’s estimated to occur in less than 1 in 1 million doses.

Most side effects last no longer than a couple of days and go away without any long-term problems. Some side effects, like vomiting or diarrhea, can appear up to 7 days after the vaccine.

Learn more about what to expect after the rotavirus vaccine.

It’s important to call your baby’s doctor right away if you think they have intussusception. Almost all babies who receive prompt treatment make a full recovery.

Some warning signs include:

  • blood and mucus in stool
  • vomiting bile, a yellow-green fluid
  • severe crying or vomiting that may come and go
  • being very lethargic
Medical emergency

Call 911 or take your baby to the nearest emergency room if you think they are having a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms usually appear within minutes to hours and may include:

  • seizures
  • mouth, throat, or facial swelling
  • collapse
  • trouble breathing

Here are some frequently asked questions people have about rotavirus vaccine side effects.

How long are babies unsettled with side effects after the rotavirus vaccine?

Most babies who have side effects recover within a couple of days. Some side effects might not appear for up to a week.

What is the most common adverse reaction to rotavirus vaccines?

The most common side effects of the rotavirus vaccine include:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • irritability

Should some babies not receive the rotavirus vaccine?

Your child should not receive the rotavirus vaccine if they:

  • had a previous episode of intussusception
  • had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose
  • had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of the rotavirus vaccine
  • have severe combined immunodeficiency

The rotavirus vaccine is important for preventing severe rotavirus infection in babies. Most babies who receive the vaccine don’t have any side effects. When side effects do appear, they’re usually mild.

Severe side effects are very rare, but they can include intussusception and a severe allergic reaction. Seek immediate medical attention if your baby develops signs of these conditions.