High rates of perforated eardrums and hearing loss in Indigenous children living in remote communities has been linked to poor school attendance, social and behavioural problems, as well as exclusion from employment later in life.

Otitis media is caused by multiple strains of two bacterial pathogens, Streptococcus pneumoniae and non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi).

Our ear health team investigated the best vaccination strategy for infants to improve school readiness of children at high risk of otitis media and hearing loss during their first three years of life.

The first trial completed in September showed a combination early schedule of two different vaccines gives babies early and broad immune protection.

A second trial of a booster dose, with hearing tests and developmental milestones recorded, is ongoing and results from both trials will potentially change Australia’s National Immunisation Program.