The BCG vaccine protects against tuberculosis, which is also known as TB.
TB is a serious infection that affects the lungs and sometimes other parts of the body, such as the bones, joints and kidneys. It can also cause meningitis.
Who is given vaccine?
The BCG vaccine is normally given to children as it has been shown to provide very good protection against the disseminated forms of TB in children, including meningitis. However the protection provided against pulmonary TB in adults is very variable. So the vaccine is not generally given to adults.
The BCG vaccine is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines, and overall it reaches more than 80% of all new born children and infants in countries where it is part of the national childhood immunization programme. The World Health Organisation (WHO) monitors the estimated coverage of the BCG vaccine in every country
Effectiveness of vaccine
The BCG vaccine is made from a weakened strain of TB bacteria. Because the bacteria in the vaccine are weak, it triggers the immune system to protect against the disease. This gives good immunity to people who receive it without actually causing the disease. The vaccine is 70 to 80% effective against the most severe forms of TB, such as TB meningitis in children. It's less effective in preventing respiratory disease, which is the more common form of TB in adults.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Small red areas at the site of injection. (these usually appear 10-14 days after injection and slowly decrease in size. They should disappear after about 6 months.)
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent or painful urination
- Upset stomach
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Journal of Vaccines & Vaccination