Prediction skill is a key test of models for epidemic dynamics. However, future validation of models against out-of-sample data is rare, partly because of a lack of timely surveillance data. We address this gap by analyzing the response of rotavirus dynamics to infant vaccination. Syndromic surveillance of emergency department visits for diarrhea in New York City reveals a marked decline in diarrheal incidence among infants and young children, in line with data on rotavirus-coded hospitalizations and laboratory-confirmed cases, and a shift from annual to biennial epidemics increasingly affecting older children and adults. A published mechanistic model qualitatively predicted these patterns more than 2 years in advance. Future efforts to increase vaccination coverage may disrupt these patterns and lead to further declines in the incidence of rotavirus-attributable gastroenteritis.
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