OBJECTIVE. Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important cause of otitis media in children. In this study we estimated the effect of routine childhood immunization with heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on frequent otitis media (3 episodes in 6 months or 4 episodes in 1 year) and pressure-equalizing tube insertions.

PATIENTS AND METHODS. The study population included all children who were enrolled at birth in TennCare or selected upstate New York commercial insurance plans as of July 1998 and continuously followed until 5 years old, loss of health plan enrollment, study outcome, or end of the study. We compared the risk of developing frequent otitis media or having pressure-equalizing tube insertion for 4 birth cohorts (1998–1999, 1999–2000, 2000–2001, and 2001–2002) by using Cox regression analysis. We used data from the National Immunization Survey to estimate the heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine uptake for children in these 4 birth cohorts in Tennessee and New York.

RESULTS. The proportion of children in Tennessee and New York who received at least 3 doses of heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine by 2 years of age increased from ≤1% for the 1998–1999 birth cohort to ∼75% for the 2000–2001 birth cohort. By age 2 years, 29% of Tennessee and New York children born in 2000–2001 had developed frequent otitis media, and 6% of each of these birth cohorts had pressure-equalizing tubes inserted. Comparing the 2000–2001 birth cohort to the 1998–1999 birth cohort, frequent otitis media declined by 17% and 28%, and pressure-equalizing tube insertions declined by 16% and 23% for Tennessee and New York children, respectively. For the 2000–2001 to the 2001–2002 birth cohort, frequent otitis media and pressure-equalizing tubes remained stable in New York but increased in Tennessee.

CONCLUSIONS. After heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine introduction, children were less likely to develop frequent otitis media or have pressure-equalizing tube insertions.

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