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You are here : home > Child's Healthcare > Basics of immunization > Importance of the BCG Vaccine and Its Schedule

Importance of the BCG Vaccine and Its Schedule

BCG vaccine
Are you aware of the importance of giving BCG vaccine to babies? Here is what you must know about the BCG vaccine.
Tuberculosis (TB) caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a serious infectious disease that can lead to TB meningitis in babies. It affects the lungs in young people and adults, and can also affect the brain, glands, kidneys, joints or bones. It can spread from person to person through spitting, coughing, or sneezing into the air.
The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is the only vaccine that contains a weakened form of M. tuberculosis, and once administered, it will help your baby develop shield against the disease in case he or she comes into contact with any person who has or who had a medical history of TB.

Who should be Offered BCG Vaccine, When and How?

The BCG vaccine is generally scheduled to be given to babies while they are still in hospital. It can be given to your baby within a few days after your baby is born and up to 6 months of your baby’s age or anytime up to 5 years of his or her age. It is generally given if he or she has a higher risk of catching TB by coming in contact with people having a medical history of TB. If your child is vaccinated after 6 months of age, then he or she has to be tested to see any contamination of TB in him or her before the vaccination.
If your baby is less than 6 months of age, he or she will undergo a tuberculin skin test before the administration of the vaccine. Once this test proves negative, BCG vaccine is injected into the muscle of the upper part of the left arm.

What Can Happen After BCG Vaccination?

Reactions to BCG vaccination are common.
  • Your baby may sport a small red raised blister at the injection site in 1-6 weeks
  • The blister may turn into a small, weeping sore after 6-12 weeks that must not be covered by sticking plasters but by gauze to allow air passage
  • Your baby may take up to 3 months to heal the sore that may leave a small scar later on

What Are the Side-Effects of BCG Vaccination?

Your baby may get swollen glands under the arm after BCG vaccination as an allergic reaction to it. More severe reactions can include ulcers or abscess formations if the sore at the site of injection does not heal easily.

When Is the Baby Unfit for Vaccination?

BCG vaccination is not offered to the baby in the following cases:
  • Having a high fever
  • HIV positive
  • Suffering from skin diseases
  • Confirmed allergic reaction to any ingredient of BCG vaccine
  • Having cancer or other immune-weakening serious conditions
  • Living in a TB-confirmed household

Few Useful Tips During and After Vaccination

  • Clean your child’s body before vaccination
  • Cover the pimple if it oozes with a dry dressing and change it regularly
  • Do not cover the injection site with plaster
  • Make your child wear loose clothing
  • Avoid using cream, oils, or ointments on the pimple even if there is a discharge

How Can You Get Your Child Vaccinated?

Make an appointment with your family doctor or contact any local public health service and speak to the BCG nurse of the area. They will help you out easily with your child’s vaccination.

How Effective Is BCG Vaccine?

BCG vaccine is 80% effective in preventing serious TB disease in babies who have never encountered M. tuberculosis. It may not prevent infection with the germs that cause TB, but it helps stop your baby getting serious TB disease. Its effect stays for up to 15 years after vaccination.
If you have any concerns related to BCG vaccine for your child, you must surely bring it to the notice of your child’s pediatrician.

Why is BCG vaccine given to newborn babies? What are the side-effects of BCG vaccine? What is the importance of giving BCG vaccine to babies? Discuss here.

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Barkha.6 years ago
When by child was born he suffered from jaundice. So, when BCG vaccine was given to him, I was given to him through and IV. Will that affect my child's health?
Abhishek.6 years ago
Vaccinating children is very important but people who live in villages are not aware of the importance of vaccinating children till today. They still don't vaccinate their children. We need to do something for such people.
Palak.6 years ago
I agree with you, vaccinating children can protect them from a lot dreadful diseases. Village people are not aware of it and most of the deliveries are still happening at home in village.
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