02/22/2006 02:30 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


I sat out for a while. The new recommendation about the rotavirus vaccine merits a brief comment.

The committee approving this vaccine has many voting members who have been associated with the pharmaceutical industry for years and years and received millions of dollars in funding, consulting and speaking fees. Their objectivity is compromised in spite of their being honest men and women.

The co-inventor and patent holder of this vaccine, Dr. Paul Offit is being quoted in all the media talking about the great benefits and safety of this new immunization. I have no idea how much money he will make if this vaccine sells well. I'd be very interested to know.

This is a nasty, nasty diarrhea which hospitalizes American children, inconveniences millions but is rarely dangerous nor fatal in this country. In spite of the scare tactics you'll read, this is a virus which is rarely dangerous to a healthy American child. The 40 deaths/year which will be sensationalized in an effort to sell this vaccine probably almost all occur in either unwell children or children with such poor access to medical care that they'll never even hear of the the new vaccine let alone receive it.

In the Third World, this is not the case. Rotavirus kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. Unfortunately, the cost of the series of three oral doses, $190 to doctors and then $300-400 for patients, will far exceed the annual per capita income inthe countries which need it most.

The lasteffort at vaccinating against rotaviral diarrhea ended in disaster. It could have been much worse if the vaccine had not been taken off the market quickly.

Do not be fooled into thinking your child needs this new vaccine.