The BCG vaccine (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) helps protect your baby against tuberculosis (TB).
TB is a serious infectious disease. TB can progress rapidly, particularly in young children and infants, and can lead to TB meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain) in babies.
In young people and adults it usually affects the lungs, but can also affect the:
- lymph glands
Most people in the UK recover fully after treatment, but this usually takes several months.
How common's TB?
TB isn't a common disease. In Scotland, around 400 new cases of TB are diagnosed every year. Most of these cases occur in adults over the age of 25.
Cases of TB can be found all over the world. With increasing numbers of people travelling around the world, the risk of people coming into contact with the disease or bringing it into this country is increasing.
More about tuberculosis
Who's eligible for the vaccine?
The BCG vaccine's offered to those babies who are more likely than the general population to come into contact with someone with TB. This is because they either:
- lived in an area with high rates of TB
- their parents or grandparents came from a country with high rates of TB - including countries in South-East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and some countries in Eastern Europe
An up-to-date list of countries with high rates of TB is available on the GOV.UK website.
When will my baby be immunised?
The vaccine's usually offered soon after birth, while your baby's still in hospital or soon after you return, however, it can be given at any time if necessary.
The vaccine will be made available to your baby at birth, or it can be given later. Your local Health Board will advise you about arrangements.
Countries with high rates of TB
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions your baby may need a BCG vaccine if they haven’t already had one:
- Are you, your family or your baby’s father or his family from a country with a high rate of TB? (If in doubt, talk to a health professional.)
- Will you and your baby be going to live in a country with a high rate of TB for more than 3 months in the near future?
- Will you and your baby be travelling frequently to countries with a high rate of TB in the near future?
- Does anyone in your house have TB, or had it in the past, or comes from a country with a high rate of TB?
- Does anyone else who's likely to have long-term close contact with your baby have TB, or had it in the past, or comes from a country with a high rate of TB?