Deployment of Rotavirus Vaccine in Western Kenya Coincides with a Reduction in All-Cause Child Mortality: A Retrospective Cohort Study
Shaw, Andrea V
Larsen, David A
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Rotavirus is an important cause of fatal pediatric diarrhea worldwide. Many national immunization programs began adding rotavirus vaccine following a 2009 World Health Organization recommendation. Kenya added rotavirus vaccine to their immunization program at the end of 2014. From a cohort of 38,463 children in the Kisumu health and demographic surveillance site in western Kenya, we assessed how the implementation of the rotavirus vaccine affected mortality in children under 3 years of age. Following its introduction in late 2014, the span of rotavirus vaccine coverage for children increased to 75% by 2017. Receiving the rotavirus vaccine was associated with a 44% reduction in all-cause child mortality (95% confidence interval = 28–68%, p < 0.0001), but not diarrhea-specific mortality (p = 0.401). All-cause child mortality declined 2% per month following the implementation of the rotavirus vaccine (p = 0.002) among both vaccinated and unvaccinated children, but diarrhea-specific mortality was not associated with the implementation of the rotavirus vaccine independent of individual vaccine status (p = 0.125). The incidence of acute diarrhea decreased over the study period, and the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine was not associated with population-wide trends (p = 0.452). The receipt of the rotavirus vaccine was associated with a 34% reduction in the incidence of diarrhea (95% confidence interval = 24–43% reduction). These results suggest that rotavirus vaccine may have had an impact on all-cause child mortality. The analyses of diarrhea-specific mortality were limited by relatively few deaths (n = 57), as others have found a strong reduction in diarrhea-specific mortality. Selection bias may have played a part in these results—children receiving rotavirus vaccine were more likely to be fully immunized than children not receiving the rotavirus vaccine.