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BCG: the vaccine against tuberculosis

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The BCG vaccine is intended to fight against tuberculosis. Today, it is no longer compulsory for children, but it is still recommended in certain cases. Overview. 

Everyone knows BCG. This vaccine is intended to fight against tuberculosis, a severe respiratory disease caused by Koch’s Bacillus. It is no longer compulsory for children since 2007. Previously, the vaccine was carried out with the famous ring, but it had finally been replaced by a more classic injection.

BCG: prevention against tuberculosis

Vaccination with BCG (Bacille Calmette and Guérin) is the only way to protect against tuberculosis. It is a tubercle bacillus rendered harmless to stimulate immunity without danger. The main goal of this vaccine is to protect young children and infants from severe forms of tuberculosis, in particular meningitis, an infection of the brain envelopes. 

BCG: vaccination is no longer compulsory

For several years now, the debate has been raging as to whether or not it should be kept compulsory. Several reasons pushed to abandon it:

  • Its effectiveness against Koch’s bacillus is not 100%;
  • It has significant side effects, even if they remain mild;
  • Tuberculosis cases are relatively low today 

Vaccination recommended

Geographical areas with a high incidence of tuberculosis, according to WHO estimates, and taking into account certain inaccuracies linked to the difficulties of reliable collection of epidemiological data in certain countries, are:

  • The African continent as a whole;
  • The Asian continent as a whole, including the countries of the Near and Middle East;
  • The countries of Central and South America;
  • The countries of Central and Eastern Europe;
  • The European Union: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania.

Note: the vaccine can be offered up to 15 years of age in children at high risk and those who have not yet been vaccinated.

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BCG: how is the tuberculosis vaccine made?

Vaccination is done by intradermal injection of the BCG vaccine. It is based on:

  • The single injection of a half-dose of vaccine for children under 12 months;
  • The injection of a dose of vaccine from one year and in adults. 

Note: after vaccination, ulceration at the injection site may appear and take several weeks to resolve.


Vaccination is contraindicated if the person is being treated at the same time with corticosteroids or immunosuppressants, if they are immunosuppressive or seropositive to AIDS (HIV), or if they are very sensitive to any of the components of the vaccine. 

BCG: What is the tuberculin intradermal reaction (IDR)?

Tuberculin IDR is a test that consists of a small test injection under the skin to check that the child has not already been infected with the tuberculosis bacillus. 

The tuberculin intradermal reaction (IDR), performed before the BCG vaccination, is no longer recommended for children under 6 years old, except for those who have resided or spent more than one month in a country with the severe incidence of tuberculosis. 

BCG: continue the fight against tuberculosis

The disappearance of BCG does not mean the end of the fight against tuberculosis.

In any case, if you have a small child, do not forget to consult your doctor to check which vaccines he should receive. Because it is important to protect the baby so that he can grow and flourish without a problem!

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