Background The public health impact of rotavirus vaccination in countries with high child mortality rates remains to be established. The RV1 rotavirus vaccine was introduced in Bolivia in August 2008. This study describes the trends in deaths, hospitalizations, and healthcare visits due to acute gastroenteritis (AGE) and in rotavirus-related hospitalizations, among children <5 years of age, during the pre- and post-vaccination periods. Methods Data were obtained from the National Health Information System to calculate vaccine coverage and AGE-related health indicators. Trend reductions in the main health indicators were examined using the pre-vaccine period as baseline. The effect of vaccination on the epidemiology of rotavirus-related AGE was assessed using data from the active surveillance hospitals. Results Compared with the 2001–2008 pre-vaccine baseline, the mean number of rotavirus-related hospitalizations was reduced by 40.8% (95% confidence interval (CI) 21.7–66.4%) among children <5 years of age in the post-vaccine period (2009–2013). Reductions were most pronounced in children <1 year of age, eligible for vaccination. The mean proportions of AGE-related deaths, AGE-related hospitalizations, and AGE-related healthcare visits during 2009–2014 were reduced by 52.5% (95% CI 47.4–56.3), 30.2% (95% CI 23.5–36.1), and 12.9% (95% CI 12.0–13.2), respectively. The greatest effect in reduction of AGE-related deaths was found during the months with seasonal peaks of rotavirus disease. Over the post-vaccine period, changes in rotavirus epidemiology were observed, manifested by variations in seasonality and by a shift in the mean age of those with rotavirus infection. Conclusions The significant decrease in main AGE-related health indicators in children <5 years of age after the introduction of rotavirus vaccine provides evidence of a substantial public health impact of rotavirus vaccination in Bolivia, as a measure for protecting children against AGE.
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