The BCG vaccination can help to protect your child against many forms of tuberculosis (TB). Although the vaccine isn’t needed for every child, it is recommended if they are at higher risk of infection. If you decide to have the jab, it is good to know what to expect when you bring your child to the clinic.
Getting the BCG Vaccination
The BCG vaccine is given as an injection into the upper arm. It is normal for a red blister to develop at the injection site, which should heal within a few weeks. It will often leave a small scar, especially if the blister is burst before it heals. As with all vaccinations, other side effects are possible including allergic reactions and sores at the injection site. Your doctor will tell you what to look out for after the jab.
Will Your Child Need a Skin Test?
The BCG vaccination can often be given without a skin test, but in some cases the doctor may want to check whether your child has already been exposed to TB. The doctor can check for current or previous infections using the tuberculin skin test. The skin will be pricked with fine needles to inject a substance that will trigger an immune reaction if your child has been exposed to TB.
Your child might need to have this test if he or she is over the age of six or there is a very high chance of infection. This could be due to living overseas or having been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with TB. If the test is negative, your child can have the BCG vaccination. However, if the test is positive the vaccination won’t be effective and your child may need treatment if the TB infection is active.