Merck is pursuing multiple approaches to increase global access to ROTATEQ® (rotavirus vaccine, live, oral, pentavalent).

Rotavirus gastroenteritis is a leading cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide.1 In 2008, an estimated 453,000 rotavirus gastroenteritis associated child deaths occurred worldwide.2 Since 2009, the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has recommended the inclusion of rotavirus vaccination in all national immunization programs, helping ensure access to rotavirus vaccines in the world’s poorest countries.3 Merck believes that we have an important role in contributing towards this goal.

Since its launch in 2006, ROTATEQ has been registered and approved in more than 100 countries. In the same year in which it was registered and launched in the U.S., ROTATEQ was also launched in Nicaragua through a joint program that was established between Merck and the Nicaraguan Health Ministry—marking the first time there was access to a vaccine in the public sector of a developing country in the same year that it was first licensed in a developed country. This program, which was completed in 2009 and transitioned to GAVI funding in 2010, achieved an estimated 94 percent vaccine coverage (percent receiving third dose of ROTATEQ) among Nicaraguan infants. The successful public-private partnership (PPP) was recognized as a model for the rapid adoption of a vaccine in a developing world setting and is described in a case study. Learn more4 about the joint program in Nicaragua.


The first dose of RotaTeq administered to an infant in Rwanda by the Permanent Secretary.

In 2012, Rwanda became the first African country to introduce ROTATEQ through a national immunization program. In Rwanda, diarrheal infections rank third among causes of death in children less than 5 years of age, representing a critically important public health issue. Merck is pleased to be working in partnership to make ROTATEQ available in Rwanda and other GAVI-eligible countries.






In addition, Merck continues to evaluate and implement approaches that will improve product attributes to better meet the specific needs of low and middle-income countries in the future.

1 Lancet Infect. Dis. 2012_Tate p1A

2 Tate, J. et al 2008 estimate of worldwide rotavirus-associated mortality in children younger than 5 years before the introduction of universal rotavirus vaccination programmes: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Lancet, February 2012, p. 136.

3, Accessed March 6, 2013.

4 Khawaja and et. al, Evaluating the health impact of a public private partnership to reduce rotavirus disease in Nicaragua, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, p. 777.

Last Updated July 25, 2013