April 18, 2021

Vaccine to Prevent Frequent Ear Infections, Sinus Infections, and Upper Respiratory Infections

Did you know that there is a vaccine that effectively and significantly reduces ear infections, sinusitis, and upper respiratory infections of all ages? Did you know that this vaccine is available in most if not all pharmacies and primary care offices since 2000, the latest and greatest version of this vaccine since 2010?

The pediatric version of the vaccine is called Prevnar13 and the adult version is called Pneumovax23. Commonly, this vaccine is called the "pneumonia shot," and it is true, it helps prevent pneumonia, but it is also highly effective in preventing frequent ear infections, sinus infections, and other forms of upper respiratory infections.

Why is that?

These vaccines specifically target a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. As its name suggests, it causes severe pneumonia that can lead to death. But this germ can also cause numerous other infections beyond the lungs.

• 30-50% of all ear infections

• 20-43% of all sinus infections

• 20-40% of all URI's

As such, children AND adults who suffer from frequent URIs, ear infections, and/or sinus infections can get blood testing done to check for effective immune IgG titres to S. pneumoniae (serotypes 1-23). And if there are sub-therapeutic immune titres present, getting a "pneumonia shot" with Prevnar13 or Pneumovax23 will absolutely make a huge difference in decreasing the frequency of these non-lung infections!

Better yet, you should only need to get these vaccines done once in your life! Rarely, I have had patients who have required a booster shot of one of these vaccines every few years.

If you have already received this vaccine, but are still getting frequent infections, it may be worthwhile to get your titres checked to ensure adequate immune response.


Health-care utilization for sinusitis after pneumococcal vaccination in patients with low antibody titers. Allergy Rhinology. 2022; 12(8):1018-1024. 

Streptococcus pneumoniae Otitis Media Pathogenesis and How It Informs Our Understanding of Vaccine Strategies. Curr Otorhinolaryngol Rep. 2017; 5(2): 115–124.

Acute Sinusitis. Medscape 2/23/21.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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