BCG Vaccine
BCG Vaccine

BCG Vaccine: Definition, Schedule, and 9 Side Effects

The BCG vaccine or Bacillus Calmette – Guérin vaccine is a vaccine that is administered to protect against tuberculosis (TB), which is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs.

Tuberculosis (tuberculosis) have long been a serious health problem around the world, especially in some developing countries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that tuberculosis accounted for 1.7 million cases of deaths worldwide. 

What is a BCG vaccine?

The BCG vaccine stands for “Bacille Calmette-Guerin”, which is a combination of the names of the two doctors who first developed it, namely Dr. Albert Calmette and a researcher named Camille Guerin in 1921.

The vaccine is developed from the Mycobacterium Bovis bacteria, which bacteria usually cause TUBERCULOSIS in animals, such as cows and monkeys. However, the characteristic of M. Bovis bacteria is similar to that of the TB-causing bacteria in humans, namely Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

In addition, there are some additional active ingredients (antigen) which are also contained in a small amount:

  • Sodium, potassium, and magnesium salts
  • Glycerol, a stabilizer that is also commonly found in cooking
  • Citric acid

However, the BCG vaccine is available in different brands, so sometimes the content in the TB vaccine in each country varies.

The main supplier of TB vaccines worldwide is The United Nation Children’s Fund or UNICEF, which works with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

BCG Vaccine Schedule

Newborns up to two months old are the most effective age groups to receive this vaccine. Older persons are also allowed to receive a BCG vaccine if it is not provided during the children.

This vaccine can also be given to:

  • Children aged 1-15 who have not been vaccinated with evidence of no record or no scars
  • Immigrant
  • Travelling Community
  • Unvaccinated health workers with no evidence of records or Scars

Nevertheless, the effectiveness of this vaccine in older persons will be lower, so it is rarely recommended. Except, for those who are at high risk, such as medical personnel who handle TB patients.

The BCG vaccine only needs to be administered once a lifetime, through injections performed by a physician or medical officer. This vaccine contains very little amount of TB bacteria that has been weakened and will stimulate the immune system to fight the TB bacteria later.

In addition to preventing tuberculosis, the BCG vaccine is also used as a therapy in bladder cancer.

Read also:
When Did HPV Vaccine Start?

BCG Vaccine Side Effects

After the children or someone has a BCG vaccination, there will generally be little red papules or spots within 1-3 weeks.

Over time, these spots will be more malleable, broken and cause scars. The wound may take up to 3 months to heal.

Allow the injected body to heal itself and make sure to keep it clean and dry.

Do not use creams or ointments, attached plaster, band-aid, fitting or cloth directly on the vaccination site.

In addition to redness and swelling around the injection site, the administration of BCG vaccines also has other side effects, including:

  • Pain 
  • Ulceration
  • Enlargement of regional lymph glands
  • Inflammation
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Swelling of the gland
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • BCG infection.

BCG vaccination is inseparable from the side effects.

Therefore, please be aware that this vaccine is not recommended for individuals who have decreased immune status and positive tuberculin test.

Who should not receive the BCG vaccine?

The BCG vaccine should not be administered to persons who have the following conditions:

Experiencing immune system disorders (immunosuppression)

BCG vaccines should not be administered to patients with weakened immune systems. For example, HIV/AIDS, people undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer, or people who will undergo organ transplantation.

Pregnant woman

The BCG vaccine should not be administered to patients who are pregnant.

BCG Vaccine: Definition, Schedule, and 9 Side Effects

Post in | Last updated: July 11th, 2020 |