BCG Vaccination in London

child receiving bcg vaccination

What is the BCG Vaccine?

The BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin) vaccine protects against tuberculosis, also referred to as TB. TB is an infection which can affect not only the lungs but other body parts like the joints, kidneys and bones. It is also capable of causing meningitis.

The BCG vaccine is produced from a weakened TB bacteria strain. Because of the strain’s weakness, it is able to trigger the immune system to protect against TB.

A reaction usually occurs 2 to 3 weeks after injection and there is no fever expected on day of injection and a red pimple usually appears at the site of the injection and may ooze. This may last for several weeks/months and heals with a scar.

How effective is the BCG vaccine?

The BCG vaccine is recognised as offering good immunity to those who receive it, while not presenting a danger of causing TB. It is understood that the vaccine is from 70 to 80 per cent effective against severe forms of the disease, like TB meningitis in children. It has been found that the BCG vaccine is less effective in the prevention of respiratory disease; a common form of TB for adults.

Is the BCG Vaccine safe if my child has a weakened immune system?

The BCG vaccine is unsafe for children who have a weakened immune system caused by a disease such as leukaemia, lymphoma, other cancers, chemotherapy, radiation, steroid medication or HIV.

Who is the BCG vaccine for?

Ideally the BCG vaccine is given during the first year but the vaccine is generally given when a child is considered as having an increased risk of coming into contact with the disease. The vaccine protects infants from the complications of Tuberculosis and so earlier is better but can given at any age.

For babies up to the age of 1, BCG vaccination is recommended for: those born in areas of the UK where TB there is a higher TB rate, such as some parts of London; or those with a parent or grandparent born in a country where there is a high TB rate. z

BCG vaccination can be advised for older children with an increased risk of developing TB, including: children who have arrived recently from nations with high TB levels, such as the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, African, and areas of Central and South America.

Children over 6 years of age and some children who may have been exposed to TB require a blood and/or skin test prior to receiving the vaccine.

BCG vaccination for adults is rare. That’s because the vaccination does not work as well in adults. People aged between 16 and 35 may be given the vaccine if they are considered to be at a higher risk of TB due to their work.

Is TB contagious?

TB is spread by bacteria passing from person to person via the minuscule droplets which are released into the air when we cough and sneeze, similar to a cold or flu. However, it should be noted that TB is not considered to be as contagious as a cold or flu.

Catching TB usually involves being in close contact with an infected person over a long time period. Just standing or sitting next to somebody who is infected is usually not an infection risk.

Will my child be given a BCG vaccination at secondary school?

No – the BCG vaccination is not offered to secondary school children any more in the UK, as TB rates in the country are low. In 2005, a programme focusing on babies and children recognised as having a higher risk of developing TB was launched.

Would you like to book a BCG vaccination for your child? Or perhaps you have an enquiry? Call us today on 0207 390 8045

0207 390 8045 Book a Consultation