BCG(Bacille Calmette-Guerin) is the vaccine of choice for TB. It is preparedfrom a live, weakened strain of the TB bacteria. BCG is usually given to children in countries with high incidence of TB to prevent them from more serious form of tuberculosis (such as tuberculous meningitis).
- In countries where TB is common, WHO recommends that infants receive BCG vaccination soon after birth.
- Vaccination may be considered in healthcare workers in settings where a large number of TB patients are infected with bacteria resistant to both Isoniazid and Rifampin.
Some factsrelated to BCG vaccine:
- It provides protection for up to 5-7 years
- It decreases the incidence of lung TB in young adults by 80% and also minimizes the risk of serious TB (such as tuberculous meningitis, miliary tuberculosis).
BCG is contraindicated in any condition that lowers the bodies resistance to infection (i.e. immunocompromised state) such as :
- HIV Positive/AIDS
- Congenital immunodeficiency (present from birth)
- Steroid treatment
- Leukemia (blood cancer)
- Immunosuppressive therapy – Post bone marrow transplant, Post kidney transplant
- The protection provided by BCG vaccine is not long lasting.
- It cannot prevent a person from getting infected from TB or developing active tuberculosis.
- BCG vaccination interferes with Tuberculin test (Mantoux test) showing a positive skin test in people who have been vaccinated with it.
- The ability of tuberculin test to identify the TB infected individuals becomes difficult in those vaccinated with BCG.