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Maori and Pacific Island Children to Benefit from Vaccine

ISSUED: 17 August 2016 - Auckland, New Zealand.

Maori and Pacific Island Children to Benefit from Newly Funded Vaccine - Expert

Maori and Pacific Island children will benefit significantly from the change in formulation of a funded vaccine designed to prevent the most common form of hearing loss among young people, according to a Starship Paediatric Ear Nose and Throat Specialist.

New Zealand has a high incidence of middle ear infections (also known as otitis media; OM), with around 83,000 GP consultations[1] and 5,000 hospital admissions annually for this condition in children under five years[2].

Around 80% of children (by the age of three) will have had one episode of acute otitis media[3]. Chronic otitis media is the leading cause of hearing loss among children according to the World Health Organization[4].

Starship paediatric ear, nose and throat specialist Colin Barber says in New Zealand Maori and Pasifika children are disproportionately affected, with their hospital admission rates for otitis media reported to be up to twice those of European and other children[5] [6].

“In New Zealand the children most at risk of contracting otitis media are Maori and Pasifika children. Historically this was thought to be a genetic risk but today we think it's much more a reflection of poverty and overcrowding,” he says.

Barber says recurrent otitis media can have potentially serious complications (such as hearing loss) and has been associated with social and developmental problems[7]. A previous New Zealand study found that the incidence of hearing loss and ear disease is significantly higher in Maori prisoners compared with European prisoners[8].

PHARMAC has recently funded the Synflorix® vaccine which is designed to reduce otitis media caused by non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) as well as Streptococcus pneumoniae. These two pathogens are found in up to 80% of acute otitis media cases[9].

The move has been welcomed by Barber who says it will benefit our most vulnerable children.

“It is these Maori and Pasifika children that it's particularly important to use vaccination to deal with, not only invasive pneumococcal disease but also to help as much as possible with otitis media”.

“Early vaccination should protect against invasive pneumococcal disease and should have a greater effect against otitis media and this vaccine is a very important modality in trying to help deal with this problem,” says Barber.


Synflorix® (pneumococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccine, 10-valent adsorbed), is an injection for intramuscular use only. It is a prescription medicine for active immunisation of infants and children from the age of 6 weeks up to 5 years against disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes 1, 4, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F (including invasive disease, pneumonia, and acute otitis media). You will need to pay for this vaccine. The vaccination course of Synflorix consists of three doses beginning at 6 weeks of age, with at least 1 month between doses, plus a booster dose at least 6 months after the third dose. Children aged between 2 and 5 years should have two doses with an interval of at least 2 months between doses. Each 0·5mL dose contains: 1mcg of pneumococcal polysaccharide serotypes 1, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, and 23F and 3mcg of pneumococcal polysaccharide serotypes 4, 18C, and 19F, adsorbed onto 0·5mg aluminium phosphate. Synflorix also contains approximately 13mcg of protein D, 8mcg of tetanus toxoid, and 5mcg of diphtheria toxoid, as carrier proteins. Synflorix has risks and benefits. Synflorix should not be administered in children who have previously had any allergic reaction to Synflorix or any ingredient in Synflorix. Tell your doctor if your child has a severe infection with a high temperature, has a bleeding problem or bruises easily, has breathing difficulties, is taking any other medicines, or recently received any other vaccine. Common side effects include irritability, fever, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and pain, redness, bleeding or swelling at the injection site. If your infant or child has side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist, or health professional. Additional Consumer Medicine Information for Synflorix is available at Ask your doctor if Synflorix is right for your infant or child. Synflorix is a registered trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Limited, Auckland. TAPS No NA8518/16AU/SYN/0005/16.

Adverse events involving GlaxoSmithKline products should be reported to GSK Medical Information on 0800 808 500.

1 Gribben. The incidence of acute otitis media in children less than 5 years of age in New Zealand. J Paediatr Child Health 2012;4:205-212.

2 Milne RJ, Vander Hoorn S. An Economic Evaluation of Replacement of 7-valent Pneumococcal Vaccine with either a 10-Valent or a 13-Valent Pneumococcal Vaccine on the New Zealand Childhood Immunisation Schedule in GSK Report to the New Zealand Ministry of Health. New Zealand. 2009, GlaxoSmithKline NZ Ltd.

3 McCallum et al. Ethnic differences in acute hospitalisations for otitis media and elective hospitalisations for ventilation tubes in New Zealand children aged 0–14 years. NZ Med J. 2015;128:10-20.

4 World Health Organization Fact Sheet No. 300. Deafness and Hearing loss. (Updated March 2015) (Accessed 11 January 2016) 5 McCallum et al. Ethnic differences in acute hospitalisations for otitis media and elective hospitalisations for ventilation tubes in New Zealand children aged 0–14 years. NZ Med J. 2015;128:10-20.

6 Milne RJ, Vander Hoorn S. Burden and cost of hospital admissions for vaccine-preventable paediatric pneumococcal disease and non-typable Haemophilus influenzae otitis media in New Zealand. Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2010;8:281-300.

7 Chalmers D et al. Otitis Media with Effusion in Children – The Dunedin Study. 1989. , in Clinics in Developmental Medicine 1989, Mac Keith Press. Oxford, Blackwell Scientific Publications Ltd.

8 Bowers M. Hearing impairment in prisoners. 1986, Deafness Research Foundation: Auckland, New Zealand.

9 Chiu et al. Epidemiological and microbiological characteristics of culture-proven acute otitis media in Taiwanese children. Journal of the Formosan Medical Association. 2012; 111: 536-541.

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