My 12-month-old has had an ear infection for over a month and is on his third antibiotic. Two questions: Am I doing him more harm than good giving him a third antibiotic, and can the new Pneumococcal vaccine be causing this recurring ear infection?
The answer to your second question is the easiest: No, the pneumococcal vaccine doesn't cause ear infections. The bacteria pneumococcus causes pneumonia and is the number one cause of childhood meningitis. The new vaccine has been proven to reduce the number of these life-threatening infections by over 90% percent! The pediatric community has been eagerly awaiting the benefits of this vaccine. Incidentally, pneumococcus also causes some, but not all, ear infections, so the vaccine will actually reduce ear infections somewhat as well.
For a child such as yours, it's important to know whether his infections are recurrent (a new one right on the tail of his last) or persistent (the same one that hasn't ever fully gone away). Ear checks at the doctor's give you that information.
It seems like your son has had a persistent infection. In some cases, the germ is resistant to the antibiotics. In others, the medicine can't get into the small middle ear space that harbors the infection. Either way, after three different medicines, it's time to sit down with your doctor and discuss the problem. Unresponsive ear infections can be drained surgically and sometimes prevented with a pair of surgically placed ear tubes. Though surgery is the last option, it should be considered when your child is suffering or when these infections are beginning to prevent normal language development. Though this may not necessarily be the right answer for your son, it's at least time to get informed about your options.