Should Your Child Have the BCG Vaccination?

 

The BCG vaccination provides protection against tuberculosis, but it is no longer given to all children in the UK. However, the vaccine is still available if you want your child to have it.

BCG Vaccination

 

What is the BCG Vaccination?

The BCG vaccine is an injection that can protect against certain form of tuberculosis (TB), including tuberculosis meningitis. It is usually given in childhood as this is when the vaccination is most effective. The vaccine contains a weakened form of TB that can stimulate an immune response. The immune system will learn to recognise TB so that it is able to detect and defend against infections in the future.

Who Should Have the Vaccine?

The BCG vaccine is no longer given as a routine childhood vaccination, but there are some children in the UK who could benefit from getting the jab. You might want to arrange a private BCG vaccination for your child if he or she is at greater risk of catching TB. This could be because:

  • You live in part of the UK where there are higher rates of TB infection.
  • The child or their parents or grandparents were born in a country where TB is common.
  • Your child is likely to come in contact with people who are at risk of TB, such as relatives who are visiting from another country where the infection is more common.
  • The child has come in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with TB in their lungs.
  • You will be travelling to a country with a higher rate of TB.

Why Isn’t It Part of the Routine Childhood Vaccinations?

All school children in the UK used to be given the BCG vaccination as part of their routine childhood immunisations. Tuberculosis used to be much more common in the UK. In the 1950s, there were about 50,000 cases every year. Although TB is still present it is much rarer and is usually only found in certain areas. It is therefore unnecessary for most children to be vaccinated as the chances of them developing TB are so low. The vaccine is now only recommended for children who are at higher risk of TB.

 

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The contents on this site is for information only, and is not meant to substitute the advice of your own physician or other medical professional.