Rotavirus disease is the leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality related to diarrhea in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), where an estimated 8,000 deaths related to rotavirus diarrhea occur annually among children aged 5 years or less.
The introduction of rotavirus vaccine in LAC, where it was first introduced in 2006 in Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela; by January 2011, it was included in the national immunization schedules of 14 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The U.S. Center for Disease Control is reporting that of the 14 countries that had introduced rotavirus vaccine into their national immunization programs, 13 participate in a hospital-based rotavirus surveillance network. Data from some countries and from other monitoring efforts in LAC countries (3–6) have shown declines in hospitalizations and deaths related to severe diarrhea after rotavirus vaccine introduction.
As of June 1, 2011, rotavirus vaccine had been introduced into the national childhood immunization programs of 14 (44%) of 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Five of the 14 countries had high child mortality, and nine had low child mortality. In 2010, coverage with rotavirus vaccines among children aged 1 year or less in these 11 countries that had introduced rotavirus vaccine before 2010 ranged from 49% to 98% (median: 89%), representing approximately 7 million infants.