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Vaccine Helps Fight Ear Infections

Benefits Seen in Kids Vaccinated by Age 2
By
WebMD Health News

Sept. 7, 2004 -- A vaccine can reduce cases of bacterial pneumonia and ear infections in children, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics.

Prevnar (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) fights pneumococcal diseases, which include pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections. It is not given to prevent ear infections. But the pneumococcal bacterium is a common cause of ear infections in infants and young children.

Prevnar is given as a series of four doses. Babies get one dose each at 2, 4, and 6 months. The final dose is given between 12 and 15 months.

The new study is based on data from Tennessee's Medicaid offices and three insurance companies in New York.

Katherine Poehling, MD, MPH, of Vanderbilt University's pediatrics department, and colleagues focused on doctor visits in those health-care systems.

Kids who had been vaccinated with Prevnar by age 2 had fewer visits for pneumonia and ear infections.

In Tennessee, overall rates of ear infections dropped by 6% with Prevnar. New York had an even greater decrease: 20% fewer visits for ear infections.

More studies are needed to confirm the findings, say the researchers.

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